Martin C. Evans

War’s Images Confront Adelphi

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Young Iraqi photographed by journalist Brian Palmer, August, 2004

America’s bloody involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan can seem a faraway inconvenience on today’s college campuses, where students devote more energy arguing over parking spaces than they do pondering whether we should be at war.

But an exhibition of more than 70 photographs plus video shot in Iraq by a former CNN reporter has brought glimpses of the war’s reality to Adelphi University, including Marines hunkering during a mortar attack, Iraqi children peering from behind barbed wire and the severed hand of a dead Iraqi policeman.

The severed hand of Iraqi Police Captain Thamood Hassan Haj al-Janabi, who was killed by a roadside bomb during a routine patrol in 2005.

“I was really emotionally effected, and it was obvious that everyone in the room was,” said Drew Facklam, a 22-year-old political science and art history major, who saw the show.

The show is the first Adelphi exhibit to focus on war in recent memory, according to Eliz Alahverdian, Adelphi’s director of exhibitions.

Children peek around a blast wall in Haswa, Iraq.

“We thought it would be an eye-opener for the Adelphi community,” she said of the exhibit. “I wanted people to know there is still a war going on, and we shouldn’t dismiss it. This is just a little reminder, very neutral, very powerful.”

The images, some of which are included here, are those of Brian Palmer, a Brooklyn photojournalist and former Beijing bureau chief for U.S. News and World Report. Palmer embedded with members of the First Battalion/Second Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary in Iraq on three occasions between 2004 and 2006, a time of some of the war’s fiercest fighting.

Photograph of SGT Edgar E. Lopez of First Battalion/Second Marine Regiment on the wall of the home he shared with his wife and two children. Lopez was killed in Aug., 2004.

The exhibit ends Sunday, but Palmer will return to Adelphi’s campus for a March 29 public discussion of his work.

In an interview, Palmer, who witnessed the shooting deaths of Iraqis, and who survived a mortar attack during which a Marine was killed, described what he called the “tragic improvisation of 19-year-olds put in an untenable situation in which they had to do the best they could.”

Palmer said he was unnerved by his own reaction under fire.

“As with most traumatic events that occurred then, my brain would be activated but my heart would turn off,” Palmer said. “When the bullets are flying and the mortars are falling, you just survive. The fear and the wrenching moral and ethical stuff came later.”

Gallery hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Adelphi is located at 1 South Steet, in Garden City.

SSgt Robert Moyer, First Battalion/Second Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. July, 2004.

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