Lincoln’s birthday and the President’s Day holiday brought with them television shows covering the Civil War…and more than a few explorations of the impact war photography had on the publics view of that war.
The American Civil War was brought home to many because it was fought in their front yards…and to many more through battlefield photographs that showed the death and destruction that comes with conflict.
Upfront and personal.
The unimaginable became imaginable.
And real…oh so vividly, painfully real.
I thought of those Civil War photographs when I read this news report on the debate over whether to lift the current ban on showing the return of our war dead from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many military families who have lost a loved one support lifting the ban and I do too.
Not so we can posture and feel smug if we oppose these conflicts…not so we can put together photo essays calling for a continuation so that the fallen will not have died in vain.
But because what we don’t see is too often not real.
And war needs to be real to more than just those who serve and their families.
Upfront and personal.
The unimaginable must become imaginable.
Oh so vividly, painfully real.
So that we, like those Americans of long ago, will look at war through different eyes…as something real and ongoing and yes, with cost beyond measure.
Mayhap it is the lack of guarantees…of being able to control how photos are received by the mind and filtered through our values…that prompted this ban in the first place?
I don't know, but this is a policy discussion worth watching...
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