Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It’s Time to Go Home

(I wrote this post a few weeks ago – roughly April 21. In all the confusion of recent world events and Mother Nature’s local wrath – not to mention daily life – I never got around to posting it. My sentiments remain the same so I decided to share, albeit a bit late.)

"I'm angry. Waste always makes me angry, and that's
what all this is, sheer waste."
Rhett Butler
(Clark Gable) to Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) as the citizens of Atlanta mourn
their dead upon learning of the Southern defeat at Gettysburg in GONE WITH THE

Man, am I with you, Captain Butler.

That quote popped in my head after hearing that not one, but two, award-winning photojournalists were killed in a Libyan grenade attack yesterday. All I could think was, “All that talent … wasted.”

I think that both Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros would disagree. It takes a certain kind of individual to be a journalist. And it takes an even narrower breed to be a foreign correspondent. And then, there are those who dedicate themselves to war coverage. Some people will tell you that they were crazy or stupid for taking on such an assignment.

While I’m sure that both of them possessed some kind of daredevil/thrill-seeker gene, they both were passionate about a different role they played: communicator.

I consider myself a communicator, both personally and professionally. As a former journalist, I fully appreciate the impact a story or a photo can have, even at the local level. So, put that on steroids, crank it up a couple thousand times and you can begin to recognize the value of what these guys were doing. They put a face, or more accurately faces, on our foreign war fronts. And in most cases, those faces belonged to young American males, far from home, often questioning what they were doing, most scared sh*tless but putting up brave fronts to conceal it.

They also put a face on the many nameless and often unseen figures: the civilians whose lives are in complete and utter upheaval by the violence that surrounds and regularly permeates their personal space daily.

Hetherington and Hondros gave them a face and a voice. Most notably for Hetherington in the award-winning documentary Restrepo, and for Hondros, in a body of still images illustrating the stories of countless masses in the U.S. and abroad. My God, those pictures!

What makes me angrier still is the continued collective carnage in the Middle East. We aren’t winning hearts and minds. We’re losing limbs and brain capacity and the potential of so many young lives. It’s wasteful. And it must stop.


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