The Chicago World Can’t Wait Chapter is now inviting people to send thoughts, impressions, and memories of Anthony to Chicago@worldcantwait.org which will then be posted here.
Thoughts, Impressions, and Memories of Anthony D.Wagner from People Whose Lives Were Touched By His:
It is heart breaking when we lose someone who tried to change the world for the better, for all humanity. In his short time Anthony Wagner, World Can’t Wait activist and Iraq Veteran Against the War (served in Iraq March 2004-March 2005), tried to do just that. It is with profound sorrow that we of the Chicago World Can’t Wait chapter share that Anthony has died. He was truly another casualty of these murderous wars. And though our hearts ache at the loss of him, we can say with much joy and appreciation that Anthony touched not only our lives, but the lives of many youth who, because of him, did not and will not go and kill and die in U.S. wars and occupations.
Anthony toured with We Are Not Your Soldiers, a project of World Can’t Wait, speaking in high school and college classrooms to share the horrendous realities of these wars and occupations – through all the pain – and to call on youth to actively resist recruitment. Anthony was an eloquent speaker, with great heart and humor, and his was a voice that many youth could hear because he dared to share the truth of his experience in the Iraq war, and he dared to say that no one should have to kill and die for U.S. empire. He was a talented young man who studied at Columbia College in Chicago and was a film maker. He and his younger brother owned Wagner Brothers Media. Anthony was much loved and loved much. Humanity has lost an intelligent, creative, sharp-witted, and loving soul. We will miss you, Anthony, and we honor you as a truth-seeker and a truth-teller.
– With Love, Respect, and Great Appreciation from the Chicago World Can’t Wait Chapter
What a huge loss… for his family and friends and for the world. Anthony’s honesty, integrity, and humor was felt by all who knew him. He will be greatly missed.
When Debra told me earlier today about Anthony, I immediately thought of all of you — as well as all who inspired by and touched by the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour and all of those who knew and loved him.
While I did not know Anthony personally, I am deeply saddened by the loss of his young and very meaningful life. It is yet another indictment of this system — this system that trains youth here to become killers of youth and babies and adults and whole ways of life across borders and oceans… this system that steals these youth’s futures and humanity in the process — that he and so many others who returned from the U.S.’s unjust wars have suffered so greatly readjusting to life after what they’ve been through. His death really is another of the now countless deaths caused by this unjust and criminal system and its unjust, immoral, and illegitimate wars!
I am also saddened by the hurt and loss and confusion and distress it is bound to cause, intensely now and in waves for for a very long time, to all those who knew and were touched by his life. Those who worked with him, the students and youth he spoke to, those who followed his work from afar, and those who were deeply connected to him personally.
But, in remembering him — let me say this: it is our responsibility, as those opposed to these criminal wars and those who were inspired by Anthony’s life, to remember and live up to the best of who he was. As the Chicago WCW has noted, he changed the course of other young people’s lives in the most extreme and meaningful ways — preventing some from signing up to be killers for empire and to lose their own humanity in the process.
It takes tremendous courage and compassion and honesty and a lot of love and a deep commitment to a better future for people all over the planet to struggle through all the trauma and horror of being a soldier in the U.S.’s wars to being a “Not Your Soldier” playing a critical role in stopping those wars. And traversing the complex but extremely significant and meaningful road to actually wielding his experience as a soldier to fight against any others becoming that kind of soldier is something to learn from and emulate.
What ever his lows were, including the terrible and tragic events leading to his death, they were the fault of this system. What was best in him and what must be not only remembered about him but drawn inspiration from, built upon, and followed through on by all of us was his commitment to give what he could, in very moving and compelling ways, to put an end to this system’s crimes.
I look forward to reading more people’s reflections on his life and their friendships with him. When someone like him dies, it rips a hole in a community of resistance and it tears a hole in people’s hearts as individuals. It is essential that this community grow stronger through remembering him, by sharing what they learned from him and how they loved him and what about him will always make them smile. It is essential to keep alive what was wonderful about him both as an individual and in terms of what he gave to the world — and to redouble our efforts to continue the work he did against this system that ultimately stole his life.
“No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, who the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.” — Bob Avakian
I send my love to all.
-Sunsara Taylor, Writer for Revolution Newspaper
Anthony D. Wagner, Presente!
I have found it difficult to write, as Anthony and I were good friends and spent many hours together, including all-nighters working on the video for the March 19th protest on the anniversary of the Iraq war, watching movies and documentaries on Netflix, struggling with the trauma and pain this system inflicted on so many of us, and kicking it deeply about resistance and revolution and the possibility of a future where people all across the world could live lives worthy of human beings.
I last saw Anthony on October 15th, the global day of protests for the Occupy Movement. It was the first time I had seen him in person in a while, since I had been involved in organizing things around the California prison hunger strike and working on my appeal, and the first time I had been out in the streets in a major demonstration since before my political prosecution, trial and imprisonment in the Cook County Jail last year. We both were amazed at how much had changed in the world since we last saw each other a few months earlier in the summer, and how inspiring it was to be able to be out in the streets in the mix of this profoundly exciting upsurge of resistance around major faultline contradictions that hold so much potential for liberation.
I’m proud to say that my last memory of being with Anthony was standing in the streets with him on that global day of occupation, and the night when the first tents when up at Occupy Chicago, standing with people all across the globe in determined struggle for a liberated future for all humanity.
I hope to be able to write more soon, it has been difficult… But as we here in Chicago have reflected and remembered about Anthony’s life, and as Sunsara Taylor beautifully voiced in her statement, what his life was about serves as a living example that millions of people should learn deeply from. In the hours before his passing, Anthony was marching on Wall Street with other veterans, refusing to be soldiers for this monstrous system and instead joining in the struggle against the crimes and injustices inflicted by this system, along with the massive outpouring of people who are stepping onto the stage of history in righteous rebellion, filled with hope and determination for a better world…
In memory and appreciation.
I have personally witnessed Anthony’s ability to turn young people away from the war machine, reaching past the pain to tell the truth and speak to people who really needed to hear from him, kids who had been thinking about joining the military. This photo is from Warped Tour 2010, when we sat outside all day talking to thousands of Chicago area teenagers, tabling for We Are Not Your Soldiers/World Can’t Wait. I continue to be impressed, amazed and inspired. May his life be an example to us all
-Lina Thorne, Chicago World Can’t Wait
I am so sad to hear about Anthony. Love to everyone who were touched by Anthony, including youth who had their own lives saved and were inspired after hearing Anthony’s story about his deployment to Iraq.
I worked with Anthony on the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour and although we never met person, we would talk on the phone for hours; mainly about the world, the future for young people and resistance. He loved the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. He consciously gave up his military mentality in order to better serve humanity. Anthony would always thank us for talking with him about how the world could be different and keeping him involved.
Like many other veterans, he suffered deep scars and trauma as a result of the horrific things this government ordered him to be apart of.
In a time when many others are trained to hide it or deny how these scars came to be, Anthony not only confronted the truth, he took this truth to the public and called on them to act.
The last time I spoke with Anthony, he said he felt like he wasn’t doing enough to stop the crimes of our government ( which couldn’t have been further from the truth).
Anthony was always very clear, that he didn’t want ANYONE fighting these wars and felt responsibility in stopping them. He never gave up on struggling with fellow veterans to do the same whether it was facebook or at the VA. While it is true that veterans do not get always get good benefits or treatment, one thing that I learned from Anthony and others is that even if you DO get your benefits, and proper psychiatric treatment, these wounds never go away. Like many others, this death of such a beautiful human being seems incredibly tragic and unnecessary. When I think of Anthony, I will be thinking of our responsibility to the people of the world to stop these wars.
-Emma Kaplan, national World Can’t Wait steering committee member
Could Be and Maybe Because He Spoke It: A Poem In Honor of Anthony Wagner
They stayed here with us, oh no they never went
to do the unspeakable, see horrors eyes are never meant
They do not relive the past in a blood smeared nightmare
are not slumped down somewhere with a thousand yard stare
Could be that someone is singing a new song
perhaps trying to right a grave wrong
Maybe on a cement wall there’s an awe inspiring painting
by one who knows too long the world’s been waiting
Could be one’s mind is expanding; understanding reality
really grasping the world could be better for all humanity
Maybe they’re in the streets speaking truth to dismantle lies
trying to get others to see things with different eyes
It’s what he wanted when breathing the truth into the young
he spoke it so their songs and millions of others could be sung
-Jill McLaughlin, Chicago World Can’t Wait, national World Can’t Wait steering committee member