War is Personal is part of an ongoing photojournalism project by Eugene Richards and The Nation Institute. Click here for a slideshow of the complete series of images.
Jeremy was sitting alone at the kitchen table, his thoughts somewhere else, when the women in his life began to encircle him. His wife, Maricar, slumped down across from him, her arms wrapped tightly around herself; his mother, Mona, sat closer, but looking down. Sayward was standing directly behind her brother when she started in. She shouted for Mona and Maricar to get the rope and the dark clothes. “I’ve got the iron skillet to whack him with,” she said.
When Jeremy pretended he hadn’t heard a word of this, Sayward snapped, “It’s up to you what we do. If it was my husband going back to Iraq, I’d divorce him. I’d have him sign the papers before he ever got on that plane.” She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. “Worst thing is, we’re powerless. We wake up from all the bad dreams, call our congressmen and senators; we still don’t get anybody to say that what’s happening is wrong.”
Rubbing at her eyes, she reminded him that it was only a short drive to Canada. “No joking, what other options do we have?” she asked. Her voice began to crack. “You have to know I would willingly go to prison if you don’t go back.”
Jeremy stood up from the table. He was turning to leave when his and Maricar’s 5-year-old daughter sashayed past wearing a tattered Cinderella gown and a rhinestone tiara. Sayward reached for her brother’s hand. It seemed as if the storm had passed, then Mona placed the newspaper she’d been holding onto the table.
She began slowly and solemnly to read the headlines. “Sixty-nine killed in Iraq today. Police raid mosque. Thirty more bodies found…”
“If I could end the whole business, I would,” Jeremy interrupted, sounding defensive and sad.
“But it’s not getting any better over there–it’s getting worse.”
“I’m all right. For me, it’s easy. I sit in an office, work in a headquarters.”
“Unless they change where you’re at, and that could happen at any time.”
“Right, and I volunteer for suicide missions every day.”
“In Sunday’s newspaper the death toll was 2,319. Today, 2,322. In August, the death toll was 1,820–”
“Can’t we stop before we rehash everything–”