My Portrait of William Ramirez
Pfc. William C. Ramirez was killed in Iraq on February 11, 2004, by an improvised explosive device. He was 19 and had been raised in Portland, OR. I was asked to paint his portrait, from a photograph, for a project to portray each of the American servicemen who had been killed in Iraq. The original will go to William's family, whom I have met.
I braced myself as I opened the envelope containing the picture of the soldier I was to depict. I knew it would be upsetting to look at it, but it was beyond that. As I looked into William Ramirezí eyes I felt such pain that I didnít think I would be able to study his photo long enough to do a painting.
I feel privileged and deeply touched to have been given this opportunity to paint Williamís portrait. I hope it is of some help to his family in their loss.
I cannot accept that our supposedly enlightened country keeps resorting to armed conflict. It may have been unavoidable at times, but this time, this war, this continuing occupation, is especially disturbing to me because we chose it. We waged a pre-emptive invasion and sent thousands of precious humans such as William to deal with a situation that wasnít even planned well enough to avoid leaving them in a quagmire of unknown duration. A look at the face of this beautiful young person says to me that it isnít worth the cost.
We human beings have been around for many thousands of years and though we have been shown the way to a higher plane in both spiritual and secular realms we have not yet evolved to that more highly developed level of behavior. Imagine a world where we lived up to our amazing potential for decency instead of living down to our basest nature. Imagine what William might have been and done had we done so.