September 26, 2010

Jeremy Lange's "War At Home": Surge Babies

The third post of Jeremy Lange’s War At Home series:

In the photograph above, from December 19, 2007, Jeremy observed: “The body of Corporal Joshua C. Blaney was returned to his family in Charlotte, North Carolina. He died from injuries sustained when an IED exploded near his vehicle in Afghanistan. He was 25.”

“March 22, 2008, Greenville, North Carolina: A funeral was held for Staff Sergeant Juantrea Bradley Sr., of the 10th Mountain Division, who was killed by indirect enemy fire near Tallil, Iraq. He is survived by his wife and four children.”

Jeremy has witnessed the return of the dead, the funerals, the struggle of returned veterans, and units returning from and leaving for deployment. These scenes have become part of contemporary culture, part of our political and social fabric.

“January 23, 2010, Sanford, North Carolina: Sonya Duggins waits in the parking lot of the armory for her son Corporal Holt Preston Duggins to be dismissed from duty. Company D of the 252nd Combined Arms Battalion of the 30th Brigade, North Carolina National Guard returned home after nearly a year serving in Iraq. They suffered 29 wounded-in-action and seven killed-in-action.”

But one of the, to my mind, most unsettling and unusual scenes of the War At Home was “the biggest military baby shower ever, held on November 15, 2008, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. There were a thousand Army wives and active duty soldiers, pregnant with what the locals call ‘surge babies,’ conceived when troops deployed to Iraq for the surge of forces in January 2007 began returning home to Fort Bragg.”

Previously, Jeremy spoke about how one of the reasons he started photographing the impact of these Americans wars was because he didn’t personally know anyone fighting abroad. The baby shower excruciatingly shows how the military has really become a caste apart, a parallel universe to civilian life in which generations are born, serve, and die in uniform. These are the fault lines of a society at war with an all-volunteer army: in which we all eat the same cupcakes, but certainly don’t pay the same price.

–Alan Chin


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Alan Chin
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