Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Walt Whitman

The Wound Dresser - Walt Whitman - Washington DC 1865
Gregg Chadwick
The Wound-Dresser
(Walt Whitman, Washington D.C., US Civil War, 1865)

30” X 24” oil on linen 2011

"The eyes transcend the medium."
-R.B. Morris (Poet, Musician, Songwriter)   


Walt Whitman's poetry is a continual source of inspiration for me. Whitman's life story is also deeply moving. In December 1862 Walt Whitman saw the name of his brother George, a Union soldier in the 51st New York Infantry, listed among the wounded from the battle of Fredericksburg. Whitman rushed from Brooklyn to the Washington D.C. area to search the hospitals and encampments for his brother. During this time Walt Whitman gave witness to the wounds of warfare by listening gently to the injured soldiers as they told their tales of battle.  Whitman often spent time with soldiers recovering from their injuries in the Patent Office Building (now home to the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum), which had been converted into a hospital for much of the Civil War. Walt Whitman's experiences in Washington deeply affected his life and work and informed the core of his writing. 

Robert Roper's Now the Drum of War: Walt Whitman and His Brothers in the Civil War is an indispensible account of Whitman's time in Washington during the war.  Roper's book examines the Civil War through the experiences of Walt Whitman and provides new findings on the care of wounded soldiers both on the battlefield and in large hospitals in the capital and its environs. Roper also focuses on Whitman's emotional relationships with the  wounded troops he nursed. Walt Whitman journeyed from New York to find his wounded brother George and in the process Walt became a brother to thousands of wounded comrades. Whitman's volunteer work as a nurse during the Civil War is a story that needs to be told in all mediums.



Video by Kenneth Chadwick


The Wound Dresser
by Walt Whitman


An old man bending I come among new faces,
Years looking backward resuming in answer to children,
Come tell us old man, as from young men and maidens that love me,
(Arous’d and angry, I’d thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war,
But soon my fingers fail’d me, my face droop’d and I resign’d myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead;)
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these chances,
Of unsurpass’d heroes (was one side so brave? the other was equally brave;)
Now be witness again, paint the mightiest armies of earth,
Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?

O maidens and young men I love and that love me,
What you ask of my days those the strangest and sudden your talking recalls,
Soldier alert I arrive after a long march cover’d with sweat and dust,
In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly shout in the rush of successful charge,
Enter the captur’d works—yet lo, like a swift-running river they fade,
Pass and are gone they fade—I dwell not on soldiers’ perils or soldiers’ joys
(Both I remember well—many the hardships, few the joys, yet I was content).

But in silence, in dreams’ projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand,
With hinged knees returning I enter the doors (while for you up there,
Whoever you are, follow without noise and be of strong heart).

Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground after the battle brought in,
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground,
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof’d hospital,
To the long rows of cots up and down each side I return,
To each and all one after another I draw near, not one do I miss,
An attendant follows holding a tray, he carries a refuse pail,
Soon to be fill’d with clotted rags and blood, emptied, and fill’d again.

I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand to dress wounds,
I am firm with each, the pangs are sharp yet unavoidable,
One turns to me his appealing eyes—poor boy! I never knew you,
Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you.

On, on I go, (open doors of time! open hospital doors!)
The crush’d head I dress (poor crazed hand tear not the bandage away),
The neck of the cavalry-man with the bullet through and through I examine,
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life struggles hard
(Come sweet death! be persuaded O beautiful death!
In mercy come quickly).

From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood,
Back on his pillow the soldier bends with curv’d neck and side-falling head,
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on the bloody stump,
And has not yet look’d on it.

I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep,
But a day or two more, for see the frame all wasted and sinking,
And the yellow-blue countenance see.
I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet-wound,
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me holding the tray and pail.

I am faithful, I do not give out,
The fractur’d thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdomen,
These and more I dress with impassive hand (yet deep in my breast a fire, a burning flame).

Thus in silence in dreams’ projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals,
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night, some are so young,
Some suffer so much, I recall the experience sweet and sad,
(Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested,
Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips).


Below is a rich description from Walt Whitman's Diaries that captures his experience as a nurse:

DURING those three years in hospital, camp or field, I made over six hundred visits or tours, and went, as I estimate, counting all, among from eighty thousand to a hundred thousand of the wounded and sick, as sustainer of spirit and body in some degree, in time of need. These visits varied from an hour or two, to all day or night; for with dear or critical cases I generally watch’d all night. Sometimes I took up my quarters in the hospital, and slept or watch’d there several nights in succession. Those three years I consider the greatest privilege and satisfaction, (with all their feverish excitements and physical deprivations and lamentable sights) and, of course, the most profound lesson of my life. I can say that in my ministerings I comprehended all, whoever came in my way, northern or southern, and slighted none. It arous’d and brought out and decided undream’d-of depths of emotion. It has given me my most fervent views of the true ensemble and extent of the States. While I was with wounded and sick in thousands of cases from the New England States, and from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and from Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and all the Western States, I was with more or less from all the States, North and South, without exception. I was with many from the border States, especially from Maryland and Virginia, and found, during those lurid years 1862–63, far more Union southerners, especially Tennesseans, than is supposed. I was with many rebel officers and men among our wounded, and gave them always what I had, and tried to cheer them the same as any. I was among the army teamsters considerably, and, indeed, always found myself drawn to them. Among the black soldiers, wounded or sick, and in the contraband camps, I also took my way whenever in their neighborhood, and did what I could for them.


More on Walt Whitman during the Civil War at:
Whitman's Drum Taps and
Washington's Civil War Hospitals



More on RB Morris at:
RB Morris.com

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Notes on the Painting: A Balance of Shadows


We were not meant to survive. We were meant to live.
- W.S. Merwin


Gregg Chadwick

A Balance of Shadows

72”x96” oil on linen

A Balance of Shadows was begun in 2004 as a visual poem reflecting the tensions of our era. Today, May 24, 2012, I laid a thin transparent layer of lapis lazuli across a section of the sky. Sourced in Afghanistan, this precious stone, when ground into pigment, creates a radiant blue that has been considered auspicious in both east and west. The word depicted in Japanese script in the upper left section of the painting is satori.  The word satori is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment or "understanding". In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to the experience of kensho. Kensho when used in Zen traditions refers to "seeing into one's true nature." Ken means "seeing," sho means "nature" or "essence." Satori and kensho are commonly translated as enlightenment, a word that is also used to translate bodhi, prajna and buddhahood.

A series of interactions between this painting and viewers worldwide has taken place on the web. Poets, writers and artists from Brazil, to Hong Kong, to Greece, to the Netherlands have interacted with the painting in online dialogues. I have traveled widely in my quest to understand the international connections between east and west. These global interactions inflect my understanding of the painting and help me understand my need to create this work.

Throughout my life I have been compelled to create artworks that depict a world caught between color and elegy, between memory and dream. Inspired by the Buddhist practices of people across the globe, I have created images referencing Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Burma, The United States, India and China. These artworks seem to depict a world in which humanity struggles not just to survive, but to live. My paintings bring out questions.  What does it mean to honor the space between seeing and being? What is the place of beauty in the modern world? Where is the space for contemplation in contemporary life?

In reference to my paintings of monks inspired by Eastern Philosophy, the art writer Peter Clothier has said:

“They exist in an aura of light rather than on some earthly plane. They move through space like transient beings, absorbed in their own silent, meditative isolation. In this way, they seem to project some of the real values of their Buddhist faith: the inevitable passage of time that is at the root of so much human suffering, the illusory quality of what we take to be the real world and, most importantly, the promise of an escape from suffering into enlightenment.”

- Gregg Chadwick, May 2012

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Seeing Deeply With Art Writer Peter Clothier at Gregg Chadwick's Studio on Thursday, May 24, 2012



Dear Friends,

I am honored to invite you to register for the next One Hour/One Painting Art Meditation Session which will be led by the distinguished art writer Peter Clothier at 6:30pm on May 24th, 2012 in my studio at the Santa Monica Airport. 

Peter has recently hosted One Hour/ One Painting sessions at the Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series exhibit at the Orange County Museum of Art and at the LA Louver Gallery. When describing Peter Clothier's sessions, I am often asked what to expect. In short, Peter will guide a small group of people through an exercise in 'concentrated looking' over the course of one hour's time. He will do this by taking us, as individuals in a group, on a visual and contemplative tour of my large, six by eight foot, painting A Balance of Shadows. We will experience color, shape, space and image in a concentrated yet calm and meditative manner using our eyes and minds. 

I see this as an 'exercise in learning how to see' or 'how to see more deeply' rather than an exercise in the making of an art piece. To clarify, we will not be making a painting of our own during this session

While I will be at the session, I am not leading this event. It is being organized and led by Peter; there is a $25 charge per person payable to Peter Clothier by check or credit card at the event but please reserve a space with Emily  (emilypersist86@gmail.com). I am honored that Peter has chosen to hold his event in my studio (but I do not receive any of the fees.)

 Please see the flier below for further details on the piece we will be viewing, location, time, and how to register.  If you have any questions feel free to contact me via email or my cell 
415 533 1165, Peter's assistant Emily at emilypersist86@gmail.com, or Peter Clothier at peterclothier@mac.com

This session will be discreetly videotaped for possible inclusion on the website of the Buddhist Journal, Tricycle. More on Tricycle at: http://www.tricycle.com/

I hope to see you at my studio on May 24, 2012.

Gregg



Peter Clothier's Bio:

Peter Clothier has a long and distinguished career as an an internationally-known art writer, novelist and poet. Peter avoids the jargon that obscures much current writing about art by using readily understood language that illuminates rather than obfuscates. Clothier seeks to achieve a harmony of mind, heart, and body in his work, and looks for this quality in the artists he writes about. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Artscene, ARTNewand other publications. Peter writes a daily weblog,The Buddha Diaries, and is a contributing blogger to The Huffington Post. He also hosts a monthly podcast entitled "The Art of Outrage," on ArtScene Visual Radio."
Peter Clothier's latest books are 
Persist and Mind Work.


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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Never Underestimate Your Opponent: Lori Compas Poised to Make History in Wisconsin Recall Election

by Gregg Chadwick


"Nice people can be strong. And happy people can be smart."

Lori Compas in the Wisconsin State Journal 


Lori Compas

As the June 5, 2012 recall elections creep closer in Wisconsin, important political realities are becoming evident. Governor Walker, his Wisconsin loves me bluster nevertheless, will most likely be recalled. 


And Scott Fitzgerald, one of Governor Walker's key supporters in the Wisconsin State Senate, is scared for his political future and could be on the road to political irrelevance. Shockingly, in the June 5 recall election race for Wisconsin's 13th District, Fitzgerald is afraid to debate his opponent Lori Compas. Not only is Fitzgerald scared of Compas, he revealed himself to be an out of touch and misogynist candidate by saying that he is sure that Lori Compas is a puppet for her svengali husband as well as unions and protest groups.
"I don't for one minute believe she is the organizing force behind this whole thing." Fitzgerald said in the Mothers Day Edition of the Wisconsin State Journal .

When told of Fitzgerald’s statement, Compas was stunned.

“That is pretty insulting, but it does seem in keeping with his general views on women,” she said. “He doesn’t seem to have a lot of respect for them. That’s OK; he can keep 
underestimating me.”


Compas said that if Fitzgerald really doubts she is a serious candidate, he should accept her invitation to debate. “I have challenged him to five debates,” she said. “If he thinks I can’t handle myself, he should come out and face me.”



Today she also released a video that pokes fun at Fitzgerald:





In the opinion of my Wisconsin friends and family, Lori Compas epitomizes the future of Wisconsin in her measured, inclusive, intelligent ideas. It seems that Fitzgerald has forgotten one of the most important axioms in politics: Never underestimate your opponent.


On June 5, 2012 expect a record turnout for the recall elections. And mark my words, this record crowd of voters young and old will be led by the women of Wisconsin.






More at:



Senate recall challenge by Compas is giving 'Fitz' fits

Huffpost on Fitzgerald's Mothers Day Gaffe



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Friday, May 11, 2012

Mitt Romney vs. a young David Bowie?

by Gregg Chadwick




Must watch video from 1964 of a young David Bowie standing up for the rights of all. The recent news stories about Mitt Romney's extreme bullying and cruelty during his high school years comes to mind.:


"A high school classmate of presidential candidate Mitt Romney told ABC News today that he considers a particular prank the two pulled at Michigan’s Cranbrook School to be “assault and battery” and that he witnessed Romney hold the scissors to cut the hair of a student who was being physically pinned to the ground by several others.
'It’s a haunting memory.  I think it was for everybody that spoke up about it …  because when you see somebody who is simply different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye you never forget it.  And that was what we all walked away with,' said Phillip Maxwell, who is now an attorney and still considers Romney an old friend."


Romney's actions show an almost pathological lack of empathy. We need empathy not cruelty in our President! We need a POTUS who accepts all persons equally!



Hat tip to Eric Kleefeld!

More at:
Once a Bully, Always a Bully

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Happy 18th Birthday to My Wonderful Kid - Cassiel Chadwick!


The Existentialist (Portrait of Cassiel Chadwick)
30"x22" monotype on paper
Happy 18th Birthday to my University of California Berkeley bound Cassiel Chadwick!

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Revealing the Unseen: The Provocative Art of Ramiro Gomez


by Gregg Chadwick

“Often these sectors of the labor force become invisible—we’re used to them attending our gardens, taking care of our kids, cleaning our homes and they almost become invisible.”      
-Lizette Guerra, archivist and librarian at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center 

"Happy Hills is my body of work documenting the predominantly hispanic workforce, who work tirelessly behind the scenes to present the beautiful images of the ideal Hollywood Hills homes."
- Ramiro Gomez



Ramiro Gomez Outside the Beverly Hills Hotel During an Artistic Intervention
from a video by Jorge Rivas


The artwork of the young Los Angeles based artist Ramiro Gomez reveals the unseen hands and faces of the often underpaid and under appreciated laborers who keep the more affluent areas of the Los Angeles basin manicured and green. Using the simple materials of cardboard and paint, Gomez creates labor portraits of the hispanic workers that work behind the scenes at posh hotels and trendy restaurants. With a utility blade, Gomez cuts out these almost Hockney like figures and then places them in public settings where his artistic subjects work.  These artistic interventions are witty, respectful, and deeply provocative. 


Ramiro Gomez
Leonardo Torres
11"x8.5" acrylic on LUXE interiors magazine 


 Ramiro Gomez also creates smaller works on paper that utilize pages from lifestyle magazines. These small scale interventions include figures of laborers that Gomez documents in acrylic paint. If you are in the Los Angeles area and driving through Beverly Hills, take note of the workers who often remain unnoticed. Ramiro Gomez' artwork is a powerful reminder to remain attentive.


Ramiro Gomez
Socorro folds the laundry
11"x8.5" acrylic on LUXE interiors magazine


Jorge Rivas in ColorLines notes that:


"A recent UCLA study found nearly 75% of child care workers and 35% of maids and housekeepers in Los Angeles County were paid at an hourly rate lower than the minimum wage. Many home health care workers (97%) and child care workers, maids, and housekeepers (87%) also reported being required to work when they were not on the clock - that is, they did not get paid for all of the work they did, according to a Research & Policy Brief from the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment."

More at:

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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Maurice Sendak: An Artist In Love With the World and the Things That Go Bump in the Night


by Gregg Chadwick


“Dear Mr. Sendak,  How much does it cost to get to where the wild things are? If it is not expensive, my sister and I would like to spend the summer there.”
 -From a letter sent by an eight year old reader to Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak
 Where the Wild Things Are
Pen and ink and watercolor on paper  1963



Maurice Sendak was an artist in love with the world and with things that go bump in the night. Sendak looked deeply at the world around him. His vision included the visible nature of  our existence and the invisible, but no less real, world of dreams. Sendak's beautifully crafted artworks for his books began with simple pencil sketches that were then enlarged and fleshed out with pen and ink which was then layered with glowing watercolor washes. 

The finished paintings on paper reflect what Dave Eggers described in a Vanity Fair article on Sendak as the "unhinged and chiaroscuro subconscious of a child." Sendak's books and images appealed to readers of all ages. Sendak took the deep mysteries of life head-on and allowed us all to journey to where the wild things are.
 In an interview with Terry Gross in September 2011, Maurice Sendak reflected on his mortality and the transient nature of life in general:
"Yes. I'm not unhappy about becoming old. I'm not unhappy about what must be. It makes me cry only when I see my friends go before me and life is emptied. I don't believe in an afterlife, but I still fully expect to see my brother again. And it's like a dream life. I am reading a biography of Samuel Palmer, which is written by a woman in England. I can't remember her name. And it's sort of how I feel now, when he was just beginning to gain his strength as a creative man and beginning to see nature. But he believed in God, you see, and in heaven, and he believed in hell. Goodness gracious, that must have made life much easier. It's harder for us nonbelievers.
But, you know, there's something I'm finding out as I'm aging that I am in love with the world. And I look right now, as we speak together, out my window in my studio and I see my trees and my beautiful, beautiful maples that are hundreds of years old, they're beautiful. And you see I can see how beautiful they are. I can take time to see how beautiful they are. It is a blessing to get old. It is a blessing to find the time to do the things, to read the books, to listen to the music. You know, I don't think I'm rationalizing anything. I really don't. This is all inevitable and I have no control over it."
We are fortunate that Maurice Sendak's love for beauty and the mystery of existence forged a unique vision that led to his magical books and images. He will be greatly missed.

Maurice Sendak
Outside Over There
Pen and ink and watercolor on paper 1978


Portrait of Maurice Sendak by Annie Leibovitz 

More at:




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Monday, May 07, 2012

On A Serious Note: Tomorrow - May 8 2012 - Please Vote for Lori Compas in Wisconsin's 13th Senate District!





For my friends and family in Wisconsin and across the United States.
Please support Lori Compas in her May 8, 2012 election for Wisconsin State Senate in Wisconsin's 13th Senate District!

 Find out how Lori plans to restore honesty and integrity to Wisconsin's political system.

Much more info here:
Lori Compas for Wisconsin!



A message from Lori about the upcoming primary election on May:


Don't fall for Scott Fitzgerald's tricks: The person running against me in the primary is a FAKE DEMOCRAT. His name is Gary Ellerman and he's a Fitzgerald supporter. This photo of him with Scott Fitzgerald is all over the internet -- it was taken at the 2012 Jefferson County Republicans' Lincoln Day Dinner. As you can see he has the GOP elephants on his nametag. And yet his name will be on the primary ballot with a D after it -- this is a lie, plain and simple. Please tell your friends.


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Wisconsin - Vote Arthur Kohl-Riggs May 8 - The Most Interesting Republican In The World

Introducing the Great Recession by William Pilgrim and the All Grows Up

by Gregg Chadwick

I am always on the lookout for passionate new artists. I remember when I first heard a demo tape from a band called the Himalayans which morphed into Counting Crows. I almost wore out that cassette as I drove around San Francisco just to hear those songs. I got a similar feeling when I first heard Ishmael Herring, singer-songwriter of William Pilgrim & the All Grows Up. This is a band to watch!
Loving the song "Water When the Well Is Dry".





More at:
William Pilgrim & the All Grows Up

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Edvard Munch's "The Scream" Sells for $120 Million


Edvard Munch
The Scream
23.5" x 32" pastel on board 1895 

This pastel, one of four versions of Edvard Munch's The Scream, sold tonight at Sotheby's for a new world record for any work of art at auction - $119.9 million.


In blood red paint on the front of the original frame that holds this pastel version of The Scream, Munch wrote the words to his poem that inspired the image:

I was walking along the road with two friends. The Sun was setting — 
The Sky turned a bloody red
And I felt a whiff of Melancholy — I stood 
Still, deathly tired — over the blue-black
Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire 
My Friends walked on — I remained behind
— shivering with Anxiety. I felt the great Scream in Nature.



Carol Vogel in the New York Times writes: "Munch made four versions of The Scream, three of which are now in Norwegian museums; the one that sold on Wednesday, a pastel on board from 1895, was the only one still in private hands. It was sold by Petter Olsen, a Norwegian businessman and shipping heir whose father was a friend, neighbor and patron of the artist."

More at:
The Scream Sells for 120 Million

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Light of A New Day: Full Text and Video of President Obama’s National Address From Afghanistan





The remarks of President Barack Obama on the war in Afghanistan, as prepared for delivery at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, on May 1, 2012 (U.S. time):

Good evening from Bagram Air Base. This outpost is more than seven thousand miles from home, but for over a decade it has been close to our hearts. Because here, in Afghanistan, more than half a million of our sons and daughters have sacrificed to protect our country.
Today, I signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries - a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation, and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states; a future in which the war ends, and a new chapter begins.
Tonight, I’d like to speak to you about this transition. But first, let us remember why we came here. It was here, in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden established a safe-haven for his terrorist organization. It was here, in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda brought new recruits, trained them, and plotted acts of terror. It was here, from within these borders, that al Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.
And so, ten years ago, the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al Qaeda could never again use this country to launch attacks against us. Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated. In 2002, bin Laden and his lieutenants escaped across the border and established safe-havens in Pakistan. America spent nearly eight years fighting a different war in Iraq. And al Qaeda’s extremist allies within the Taliban have waged a brutal insurgency.
But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan Security Forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set - to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild - is within reach.
Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over. But tonight, I’d like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan.
First, we have begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.
As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.
Second, we are training Afghan Security Forces to get the job done. Those forces have surged, and will peak at 352,000 this year. The Afghans will sustain that level for three years, and then reduce the size of their military. And in Chicago, we will endorse a proposal to support a strong and sustainable long-term Afghan force.
Third, we are building an enduring partnership. The agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the Afghan people: as you stand up, you will not stand alone. It establishes the basis of our cooperation over the next decade, including shared commitments to combat terrorism and strengthen democratic institutions. It supports Afghan efforts to advance development and dignity for their people. And it includes Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans - men and women, boys and girls.
Within this framework, we will work with the Afghans to determine what support they need to accomplish two narrow security missions beyond 2014: counter-terrorism and continued training. But we will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains. That will be the job of the Afghan people.
Fourth, we are pursuing a negotiated peace. In coordination with the Afghan government, my Administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban. We have made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence, and abide by Afghan laws. Many members of the Taliban - from foot soldiers to leaders - have indicated an interest in reconciliation. A path to peace is now set before them. Those who refuse to walk it will face strong Afghan Security Forces, backed by the United States and our allies.
Fifth, we are building a global consensus to support peace and stability in South Asia. In Chicago, the international community will express support for this plan, and for Afghanistan’s future. I have made it clear to Afghanistan’s neighbor - Pakistan - that it can and should be an equal partner in this process in a way that respects Pakistan’s sovereignty, interests, and democratic institutions. In pursuit of a durable peace, America has no designs beyond an end to al Qaeda safe-havens, and respect for Afghan sovereignty.

As we move forward, some people will ask why we need a firm timeline. The answer is clear: our goal is not to build a country in America’s image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban. These objectives would require many more years, many more dollars, and many more American lives. Our goal is to destroy al Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that. Afghans want to fully assert their sovereignty and build a lasting peace. That requires a clear timeline to wind down the war.
Others will ask why we don’t leave immediately. That answer is also clear: we must give Afghanistan the opportunity to stabilize. Otherwise, our gains could be lost, and al Qaeda could establish itself once more. And as Commander-in-Chief, I refuse to let that happen.
I recognize that many Americans are tired of war. As President, nothing is more wrenching than signing a letter to a family of the fallen, or looking in the eyes of a child who will grow up without a mother or father. I will not keep Americans in harm’s way a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security. But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly.
My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda.
This future is only within reach because of our men and women in uniform. Time and again, they have answered the call to serve in distant and dangerous places. In an age when so many institutions have come up short, these Americans stood tall. They met their responsibilities to one another, and the flag they serve under. I just met with some of them, and told them that as Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder. In their faces, we see what is best in ourselves and our country.
Mandel Nganmandel / AFP - Getty Images

President Barack Obama greets troops during a visit to Afghanistan's Bagram Air Field on May 1. 
Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, coast guardsmen and civilians in Afghanistan have done their duty. Now, we must summon that same sense of common purpose. We must give our veterans and military families the support they deserve, and the opportunities they have earned. And we must redouble our efforts to build a nation worthy of their sacrifice.
As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew AmericaAn America where our children live free from fear, and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation.
Here, in Afghanistan, Americans answered the call to defend their fellow citizens and uphold human dignity. Today, we recall the fallen, and those who suffer wounds seen and unseen. But through dark days we have drawn strength from their example, and the ideals that have guided our nation and lit the world: a belief that all people are created equal, and deserve the freedom to determine their destiny.
That is the light that guides us still. This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end. With faith in each other and our eyes fixed on the future, let us finish the work at hand, and forge a just and lasting peace. May God bless our troops. And may God bless the United States of America.


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