That was the feeling this blogger felt walking among photographs at Monday’s opening reception for “Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq.” Presented in the lobby of the AFL-CIO building downtown, the photographs depict the effect of the war on Iraqi lives in a stark and truthful way — a way that often only photojournalists can capture.
I can’t speak for how others at the reception felt as they took in the 60 images and coinciding captions explaining the photos, but I’ll take a guess that a few emotions were pretty common: anger, frustration, sadness, motivation to do something … a bit of hopelessness. But no matter how you feel, the photos will move you in a very visceral way. Here is just a handful of what you’ll witness:
A father holding his child amid the rubble of his city; angry residents gathering together after a missile is accidentally launched and kills nearby residents; an Iraqi boy celebrating after setting fire to a U.S. vehicle; a young Iraqi amputee, civilians fleeing in fear and an Iraqi psychiatric patient afraid she’ll be stuck in a hospital for life.
Posted throughout the photo exhibit are the facts and figures of war. Here are a few:
— After the 2003 U.S. invasion, Iraq’s only long-term mental hospital was looted, and the 1,200 patients left — 600 have not returned.
— One in 10 U.S. soldiers who qualify for disability compensation are 100 percent disabled.
— Thirty-five percent of returning U.S. troops visited a mental health clinic during their first year back.
— Acute malnutrition among Iraqi children has more than doubled from 2003 to 2005.
— The estimated $456 billion spent on the Iraq war through 2007 could have provided 195 million U.S. kids with health care, 3.6 million affordable housing units and 75 million university scholarships.
A speaker at last night’s reception seemed to put everything in perspective: “Right now, the world is in a state of emergency.”
The Unembedded exhibit will be on display at the AFL-CIO building, 815 16th St., NW, through Thursday, Nov. 8, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. The exhibit is presented by APHA as well as the Association’s Peace and Labor caucuses. Anyone who would like to donate to support the cost of the exhibit, can send checks made payable to APHA (note Unembedded) to Pamela Wilson, c/o Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, 1025 Vermont Ave., N.W., Suite 1030, Washington, D.C. 20005.