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August 22, 2010

Jeremy Lange: The War At Home

The first of several posts on Jeremy Lange’s War At Home:

Photographer Jeremy Lange wanted to be a Marine when he was seventeen years old, in the early nineties after the first Gulf War. He scored very high on all of the tests and was told by the recruiters that he could basically write his own ticket in the military. But with the final enlistment letter in his hands, he stood at the mailbox near his parents’ home for half an hour, and finally decided not to send it in. Like many young men, he relates, “I was attracted to the adventure and the excitement, but ultimately I knew that I would not do well under such authority, and while I was patriotic, I could not be so totally devoted to one cause.”

Living in Durham, North Carolina, near the military bases of Fort Bragg and Camp Lejune, and following the wars of our time in the newspapers, Jeremy realized he didn’t know a single person overseas or even a family with a soldier abroad. So he began to meet soldiers and their families and photograph as many aspects of their experience as he could.

He wrote me, “The military is truly a family apart these days with so small of a percentage of the population serving, that it is easy for people to think of it as a separate entity with nothing to do with them. This is part of the reason I started this project in the first place. But, the militarization of our culture is as prominent as it is separate. Quiet and loud at the same time.”

–Alan Chin


captions — (top) July 19, 2008. Georgia. A roadside tribute to an American soldier serving in Iraq.

(middle) December 02, 2008. Sanford, North Carolina. A deployment ceremony was held for Company D, 1/252nd Combined Arms Battalion of the North Carolina National Guard, part of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, that shipped out to Iraq for the second time in April 2009. The NC National Guard sustained 10 KIA during the last deployment and this will be the first time the NCNG will be directly involved in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq.

(bottom) August 8, 2006. Aberdeen, North Carolina. Jill Jernigan, left, a childhood friend of Mr. Gray and Courtney Gray, Mr. Gray’s widow, console each other: A memorial service at Bethesda Cemetery was held for Brenton Gray, a former special forces soldier and private contractor killed in Iraq. The memorial was continued at a favorite bar of Mr. Gray in nearby Southern Pines.

About the Photographer


  • Wayne Dickson

    Until there’s a draft, or at least a direct tax surcharge to pay for the war, Americans will never experience the war as other than an abstraction… or maybe at best a video game.

    Speaking of which, I’ve always thought that the fact the 1994 invasion was presented, time after time, from the perspective of a video camera and thus as equivalent of a video game, made Americans much more eager to try it again.

  • gmoke

    “…Jeremy realized he didn’t know a single person overseas or even a family with a soldier abroad.”

    I find that hard to believe. Supposedly, only 1% of the country is involved with the military but they and their families are spread all throughout the country. Many, many of the Reserves and National Guard who have been serving multiple tours are our own first responders – EMTs, firemen, policemen and such. Those effects are rippling out into our society and culture without our thinking or talking about them.

    As an effete Cambridge, MA intellectual, I know a number of folks who have or are serving in combat. When GHW Bush started the first Gulf War, I was surprised at how quickly the whole country mobilized for war and felt that it was a training exercise for a future of wars.

    We may feel insulated from the effects of war but they are transforming and deforming our society nonetheless. We know these folks who are fighting even if we think we don’t. Make sure to pay attention and support them, however you feel about the wars themselves.

  • Jeremy M. Lange


    Hello and thanks for looking at the photos.
    At the time I started, it was true, I knew no one personally, which surprised me as much much as it seems to have surprised you. That is precisely why I started looking around, talking to people and making these photos, as I still am. Since then, I have met many people connected to the military in all the ways you point out. Perhaps I just had to ask the right questions.
    This was, and is, never about how I feel about the wars, but to look at how the conflicts are effecting our society and to try and add perspective to the discussion so as that those who still do not feel as they are connected to it can see the struggles of those who serve. Perhaps then we can initiate the honest and open discussion on how to move forward from here that I feel our country needs to have.
    All the best
    Jeremy M. Lange

  • Peter. Calvin

    I suggest that anyone interested in these images visit Jeremy’s site and download the PDF of this project. It is well edited, juxtaposing images to tell the story.

  • wow


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