Circulating with all the ceremonial images this week marking the end of the Iraq war and the homecoming of American forces was this troubling photograph from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. In the picture, we see men and women attending the Air Transportation Technical School there posing at the end of August with a military casket. Inside is another officer in training, chained with a noose around his neck, pretending to be dead. After bouncing around Facebook the past few month, the photo was forwarded last week to the Air Force Times. (The crossed arm signal is used to stop a line of cargo or to indicate, perhaps on a noisy air field, that cargo has been secured.)
Because the photo is under investigation, we can only speculate about the motive here. Maybe it was a reaction to something specific. (There is some suggestion the scene might have been a reaction to the mishandling and loss of hundreds of remains by the Air Force mortuary at Dover.) Maybe it was simple acting out. In both the rough image quality and the raw “tell me how you really feel” quality of it, though, I also wonder whether these soldiers, at least in part, might have been motivated to make a statement — before we turned over our bases and sunk into a permanent denial –that punctuated how we engaged in a war for no real good reason that thousands of our kids had to hang for.
Full story at Air Force Times