May 25, 2009
Quite an image on the newswire today (although captured a year ago, Memorial Day). It’s set in Section 60 where most of the Iraq and Afghanistan war vets are buried.
I don’t mean to emphasize the power differential, but it’s as if we were looking at two different pictures, if not many more. On the left is Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen standing with a group of Marines in military dress while an airman, I believe, sits with family or friends (or friend’s family) around a grave marker, as if at a picnic or the beach with a comrade and son/brother/father (or daughter/sister/mother) who died.
To me, it’s a very evocative and humbling photo, offering much: All equal in death. The military culture as achingly distinct from civilian life. The speechlessness and even mundane quality of surviving a loved one. And then, noting the people in the background at other gravestones, there is a profound sense of anonymity here, as well.
(image: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images. Arlington National Cemetery May 26, 2008. Arlington, Virginia.)