Oaktown Pirate
My hand grips the seat, awkward in debate
500 vacant boots lying, tagged, awaiting voyeurs of war
One name I know is there, Spc. John K. KLeinsmith, Jr, age 25
And I can’t face it
Unable to face myself, my ailment
I imagine paying respect as I did in Baghdad
Saluting the onyx bag, the gleaming of the planes lights
Refusing to tear
Coward that I am, I choose not to go, not to cry, not to dissolve my fear
Not to see more names I know
I hear of those that went
Of mothers and fathers who kiss and hug their children’s boots and clench those that are with
To smell them one more time to light memory
I bristle and breathe, fighting
Buckets of water splashed onto windows
Wipe tear and snot onto sleeve or tissue
Holding onto denial that is burning cancer into hope
and furthers immerseive video games
As long as it’s played, the thoughts are kept in reserve

Ruben Paul Santos was an Iraq War veteran and poet who lost his battle with PTSD on October 16, 2009.

On March 19th, 2012, the 9th anniversary of the Iraq War, Ruben’s mother Paula, with her husband Ruben present, shared their son’s poem Empty Boots at IVAWSF’s display of the “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit to highlight the ongoing problem of PTSD and veteran suicide. (Video of the day)

Apologies for any mistakes made transcribing.

RIP, Ruben.

(via oaktownlive)


@IVAWSF #EyesWideOpen #Veterans #Suicide #Iraq

On March 19th, 2012, Iraq Veterans Against the War SF commemorated the 9th anniversary of the Iraq War by displaying the American Friends Service Committee exhibit “Eyes Wide Shut” across from San Francisco City Hall.

Part 1: The reading of the names on the boots, as well as the names (and often nameless details) of a small fraction of the Iraqi dead due to the war.

00-~32:00: Reading the names of the California Iraq War dead. Apologies if I missed a name or two off the front end.

~33:15: Farah, an Iraqi Native, reads some of the names of the Iraqi civilian war dead.

55:00: Melanie Yates(sp?) (IVAW), a public affairs specialist in Iraq. “My job was to make the war look good.”

58:50: Ryan Holloran (IVAW), active duty soldier from Ft. Hood

1:02:00: Michael Blecker(sp?), Vietnam Vet, from Swords to Plowshares

1:05:45: Scott Olsen (IVAW), the Marine veteran of 2 tours in Iraq who was shot w/ a beanbag round by riot police in Oakland

1:11:00 - Farah M. of the Iraqi Student Project, speaking as a member of the Iraqi community in the Bay Area

1:17:50 - Jason M. (IVAW) reads a staemenmt from Graham Klumpner (sp?) (IVAW) who lives in Denver, re: Afghanistan

1:23:00 - Marilyn Saner, mother of an injured Iraq Veteran, speaks about toll of multiple deployments

1:28:00 - Dottie Guy (IVAW), member of the SF Veterans Affairs Commission

1:30:15 - Paula Santos, along with her husband Ruben. Their son Ruben jr, an Iraq vet, lost his battle with PTSD and committed suicide. They read a poem he wrote on why he couldn’t come see the “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit when he had the chance, choosing instead to play video games.

1:35:30 - IVAW announces they will observe 1 second of silence for every military suicide since the beginning of the Iraq War, while blocking the intersection across Polk st in front of the City Hall steps. This will take 1 hour, 5 minutes, and 30s

Recorded live on my iPhone on 3/19/12 at 12:04 PDT


Today Iraq Veterans Against The War laid out the American Friend’s Service exhibit “Eyes Wide Open” for the last time:

Eyes Wide Open, the American Friends Service Committee’s widely-acclaimed exhibition on the human cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, features a pair of empty boots honoring each U.S. military casualty.  The exhibit started in January 2004 when the US casualties in Iraq numbered 500 as a local project in Chicago.  As the casualties grew so did the exhibit and it toured the country extensively until May 2007, when the casualties in Iraq numbered 3500 and it was determined to split the exhibit up into smaller state-based exhibits.  Eyes Wide Open has been seen by millions of people across the country and has involved thousands of volunteers. Eyes Wide Open continues to tell the story of the human cost of war in 46 states with boots representing US deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and shoes representing Iraqi and Afghan civilians.

TOL, along with CourtneyOccupy, PunkBoyInSF, and PixPls were streaming today. And I found it profoundly moving.

I’ll probably have more to say about this tomorrow, after I sleep on it and process a little more.

The war is over, and yet the violence in Iraq continues. The damage that so many vets have brought home with them continues.

Today members of IVAWSF held a press conference where they read out each the 481 names of military Californians killed in Iraq. Then a member of the Iraqi community in the Bay Area read out a mere fraction of the names of Iraqis killed.

Then in the memory of every veteran who died by suicide since Sept. 11th, 2001, the vets observed ONE SECOND OF SILENCE while standing in pretty ordered ranks blocking the crosswalk across Polk st in front of the SF City Hall stairs.

One second per veteran suicide since Sept. 11th, 2001 took an hour and forty minutes. While there was some doubt for a while, in the ind SFPD allowed the action to go forward and didn’t arrest a bunch of Iraq vets observing their fallen comrades by blocking one of the lesser used stretches of San Francisco.

Good call, that.

Today was the ninth anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq. President Obama declared it a “National Day of Honor”. Great. So how much are you increasing the VA’s budget?

I’ll write more tomorrow, maybe just expand this post. But for now, I’m gonna embed some links and call it a night.

-Pirate, on behalf of TOL

Pt 1: IVAWSF “Eyes Wide Open” Press conference

Pt 2: IVAWSF observes 1 second of silence for every US military suicide since Sept 11th, 2001.

"Eyes WIde Open", SF, March 19, 2012

Grandmothers Against The War