Celebrating the 2000th American Death in the Iraq War

The following pictures were taken in San Francisco on October 26, 2005, at the rally "commemorating" the 2000th death of an American soldier in the Iraq War.

A minor imbroglio erupted few days earlier when the blogs littlegreenfootballs.com and michellemalkin.com made posts mocking the American Friends Service Committee's plans to politicize the 2000th death of an American soldier in the Iraq War, with both blogs describing the upcoming nationwide events as "parties." Many anti-war blogs (which were also politicizing this artificial "milestone") took deep umbrage at this ironic insult, venting their anger at both bloggers, and insisting that the comemmorative events would be somber and respectful.

I decided to check out the AFSC's "Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar" event in San Francisco to settle the dispute. Would the rally be a somber and respectful memorial to our troops -- or a fun and exciting "death party"?

You decide.

I should point out that at no point did I "stage-manage" or give directions to any of the people I photographed. I never said a word and basically just took pictures at random as I passed through the rally. Most of my subjects were not even aware that they were being photographed, at least until afterwards when they saw the flash. Those few that looked toward the camera (such as this couple) were already smiling when I showed up.

I was not the only person with a camera there. In fact, the place was crawling with media. There were camera crews from at least three different television stations, and several newspaper photographers were on hand as well. So -- you're likely to see all these smiling faces in their reports too -- right?

Not quite. In fact, the other photographers seemed to have an inexplicable obsession with the protesters' candles instead of the protesters themselves.

Probably because candles can't smile, and always remain properly somber.

"Nice candle shot, Bill."

One of the few journalists focusing on a person (instead of a candle) was a young independent reporter who recorded this self-styled troubador belting out dissonant renditions of Bob Dylan protest songs.

Afterward, I went across the bay to check out another 2,000-deaths event in Berkeley. Perhaps over there the protesters -- serious-minded as they are -- wouldn't be grinning.

However, I was to be disappointed. Though only a few people had shown up, they were all smiles in Berkeley too.

UPDATE: Further confirming the party atmosphere at these events, Houston Indymedia has posted photos of the 2000-deaths rally in Houston, and just about everyone is smiling there as well.

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