Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
May 25, 2015

We Commemorate these Losses but Where are they Leading us?

If you were looking at the Memorial Day photography yesterday, you know that the NYT Lens post made up of Andrew Lichtenstein’s Iraq war funeral photos and David Ake’s black-and-white photo from the Vietnam Memorial were among the most distinctive. Tying the two together is Andrew’s photo from 2005 of a grieving family walking through Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.

Both images prompt us to consider our military engagements and consequent losses, particular the more modern ones, in terms of a path we’re on. (Imparting a sense of national mission, you’ll notice both photos engage the flag, Ake’s shot even positing the flag as some kind of goal.) But with Iraq teetering again and threatening to unspool, and with the Taliban in Afghanistan reasserting itself in our wake, what’s there to make of these treks? Between the family and the Ranger (while the Pentagon deployed almost every available uniform, it never did dip into the Park Service), it’s a solitary and ambiguous experience on those that are left. Like a journey through the Valley of Death, the best that can be said is that it’s about keeping one foot in front of the other.

(photo 1: Andrew Lichtenstein caption: Burial services for a New York National Guard member, Manny Hornedo, in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn on July 6, 2005. Hornedo was killed in Tikrit, Iraq on June 28, 2005..photo 2: J David Ake – @jdavidake/Twitter. caption: A park ranger walks past “The Wall” at the Vietnam War Memorial in #Washingon early in the morning on #MemorialDay.)

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