Death of a Marine

Afghanistan Death of a Marine

Although many thinks it had been a desensitized blunt instrument for years, the American media usually shies away from carrying graphic images of the war death–a practice which dated from the Second World War and continues to this day in Iraq and Afghanistan. That was why AP’s release of the above photo in the first week of September 2009 was met with an extreme criticism.

The photo of a fatally wounded U.S. Marine was released against the wishes of the Pentagon and the victim’s family. It was part of a tribute package to the Marine, who died three weeks ago. The photo was taken by Julie Jacobson, who was there to capture his final moments before he was gravely injured. Lance Corporal Joshua ‘Bernie’ Bernard, 21, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade during a Taliban ambush of his squad last month in Dahaneh, Afghanistan. Bernard was transported by helicopter to Camp Leatherneck where he died later of his wounds.

The photo was met with intense criticism starting from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was normally more convivial on such matters. He called the image, “appalling” and lacking in “common decency”. Many news outlets refused to run it, and others quickly purged the photo from their online galleries. Three newspaper giants, The New York Times, Washington Post and L.A. Times carried the AP tribute story, but not the image. The Daily Mail in England has the full story here.

As America debates the use of this image, it has become the symbol of the suffering inflicted on Americans in uniform elsewhere. With the dwindling public support of the Afghanistan War in the United States, the photo could be the Saigon Execution of Dahaneh. In our increasingly digitalized age, more and more photos are taken, but their respective iconicities are diminished. However, this image captures the quintessence of what a truly great, truly iconic image is. Shredding open the grim reality of war, this is the Picture of the Year 2009.

Berlin Airlift


In June of 1948, to force US, UK and France to leave West Berlin, the Soviet Union declared a blockade of all the ground transport in and out of Berlin. The fledgling US Air Force began its first major international challenge — to get 4000 tons of food and supplies to Berlin–and it rose to meet this challenge for the next 462 days.

For the 15 months of the blockade, the western nations kept over 2 million Berliners alive. The blockage was lifted in May 1949 when it became apparent to Stalin that it was not working. On September 30, 1949, a C-54 crew made the last flight of the Berlin Airlift when it lifted off from Rheine-Main Air Base in West Germany.

The above AP/Henry Ries picture of a C-54 “Skywalker” landing at Templehof in Berlin has became the lasting image of the Airlift. Vanity Fair named it one of the most newsworthy photos of the century. However, the below pictures of the innocent children of Berlin seem more emotionally powerful. After all, they, in war ravaged Berlin were to became the main beneficiaries of this  generosity and humanity.