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Saturday, September 5, 2009

We always get back up.

By now you may have heard the AP taking heat for publishing an image one of its embedded reporters shot of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard gravely wounded in Afghanistan. The shot depicts what appears to be severe leg injuries to which he later succumbed. Many papers would not carry the graphic image.

This of course started a huge debate covering everything from why the U.S. is there fighting to a family’s right to privacy.

There’s a specific argument made by those who would have bodies on display 24/7: Showing the true cost of war would make the people rise up and demand we pull out. I don’t feel that to be the case.

Whether a graphic image or flag-draped coffins, this CSI-crazed society would grow numb seeing a steady diet of that each night. I also believe that you no longer have to rely on primetime TV to display a war, just Google it and it’s all around.

Look to alternative news sources. They’re out there. Find them. Then blog the stories you see. Just don’t claim that the true cost of war is being ignored.

My main reaction though to displaying any image depicting U.S. casualties isn’t a political one. Maybe it was shaped by the way we as kids were fed media images all those years growing up, I can’t say.

The image reminded me of an older video I saw from Iraq.

It was taken from the vantage point of a supposed insurgent sniper, and was one of many clips they claimed to tape on a regular basis to help boost moral and recruit new fighters.

Briefly, the scene involved them attacking a U.S. Marine patrol, with a Marine falling down after being shot, his unit looking around, almost lost, trying to find the source of the shot.

Even though one is a video and the other a still image, the AP photo brought the same reaction back that I first had.

It goes back to being a kid and playing army with your friends. Each kid hiding and “pretending” to get shot while using whatever prop you had around you as a rifle. You got shot, let out an “Ugh!” and fell down. Then your mom called your name and it was time to go home; everyone back at it tomorrow.*

The Marine in the video wasn’t moving after a minute or so, and I got this sick feeling. Mostly because we’re not used to seeing that. The U.S. are the good guys and they always win, no matter what, right?

I thought, “Get up man, get up. He’s gonna get up.”

Maybe seeing images like that will have an effect, who knows. I suspect however, it won’t be the one the anti-war crowd needs it to be.

For those who support the war, yes they’ll see the cost of it, but it will likely only serve to strengthen their resolve. To give in and admit otherwise means they were wrong.

I don’t think you should show those images out of respect for the families, but that’s up to them to decide and an issue for another post.

No, my reaction was that of an American kid, growing up playing soldier and watching a lot of war movies, but also knowing the very real price here.

I just don’t like seeing our guys like that. Mostly because we always get back up.

*I’m not naive enough to equate kids playing soldier with real combat because obviously, many have paid the ultimate price.

1 comment:

wpofd said...

A major part of the soldier's complaint is that we did not want Mom & Dad to find out about our injury or death via the paper or tv. Secondly, that is our most private, unguarded and vulnerable moment - and no one wants it used to sell ad space. Third, it is hugely disrespectful. You cannot fathom the contempt we have for reporters who stand there and click click clicking away as a brother lay dying on the ground in some foreign country. It's a disrespect that cannot be defined or measured. A reporter who was a veteran him or herself would never, ever have taken that photo, because they understand what that moment is. Finally, if it requires pictures of dead soldiers to convince people of the true, human cost of warfare . . .

*Soldier as a universal term to be all encompassing.