12 Months, 12 Pictures, 12 Stories: December

In a December story about late Iraq War veteran and Peru native Anthony Wagner, John Keilman captured many of the economic, political, and social tensions of 2011.

Anthony Wagner funeral

Abel Uribe photographed John Wagner mourning his brother Anthony for a piece by John Keilman that brings the year, and the past decade, to a close. The profile of Anthony Wagner was begun before he died of what’s believed to be a drug overdose, and charted his life since 2001: growing up in the small industrial city of Peru, Illinois; enlisting in the Army after circumstances and decisions closed off his options; patrolling a dangerous route from Baghdad International Airport to the Green Zone; returning home with physical and psychological injuries; abusing drugs; trying to find meaning in film, and eventually the Occupy movement.

He wanted economic equality in America and abroad. He wanted his mother to get back the union job she lost in 2010 when her employer, Honeywell Hobbs, moved its Spring Valley electronic component production to Mexico. He wanted future generations to be free of what he called “adventurist wars for empire and imperialism.”

He wanted, quite simply, a revolution.

“What I get from demonstrating in the streets is the satisfaction of knowing my service offers credibility to discredit a lie,” he wrote. “I get the (peace) of mind that one day if I have children, I can say: At least I tried.”

Photograph: Chicago Tribune

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