Nine Dialogues: Conflict in Context
This final image is, like the first one, a poster in Odesa. Black and red. It’s also, like the war protest sign in Kyiv, meant for Americans. “russia is a terrorist state.” It was September 11th that launched the US into 20 years of distant inconclusive war. But Ukraine wants us to remember how we felt on September 12th. © 2023 Benjamin Busch
I’m forever grateful to Adrian Bonenberger and his wife Iryna, who inspired and organized my first mission to Ukraine just days after the invasion. I arrived to air raid sirens on 3 March 2022 with Adrian and Matt Gallagher to create a civilian defensive combat academy outside the city of Lviv under the thin auspices of the City Council.
For two weeks we trained 60 volunteers together: lawyers, construction workers, business owners. I returned twice more as a photographer thanks to
Matt who recorded each trip in 3 revelatory essays
for Esquire Magazine. I can never thank my wife and daughters enough for supporting my ventures forth into the unknown, leaving them to worry and cover for my absences. This final image adds yet another layer for us since we all deployed to the desert wars after 9/11, Adrian to Afghanistan, Matt and I to Iraq. Unlike Edward Wilton, age 22, who died fighting for Ukraine, we came home.
My great thanks also to Thomas McGuire for seeking out this work, and to Gary Mills for his sublime design of the cover, index, and this entire folio.