3.20.2008

There are no words.

Update: I decided to take the picture down. I know not everybody wants to see it...but if you do, you can see it here.

By AP photographer Jean-Marc Bouju, who was embedded with the 101st Airborne Didvision. From the AP's press release:

The photo was made during a rare moment of humanity in a war zone, Bouju said, when a father who had been taken prisoner by American troops was allowed to hold his 4-year-old son who also was taken when the man was arrested.

The boy, Bouju said, was panicking and crying, so an American soldier cut the plastic handcuffs off.

"My little girl was four at the time and I couldn't help thinking what would she have thought in the same situation," he said. Bouju wasn't able to get the prisoner's name and doesn't know where he or the child is now.

The father and son featured in the image are sitting side-by-side behind coils of razor wire. The father has one hand over the boy's forehead and his other arm hangs loosely at the boy's waist. A small pair of sandals lies a few feet away in the sand.

On that day, Bouju was only able to transmit one image to his editors because of problems setting up a satellite link. It was that photo that won the award.


I've been haunted by this picture ever since I saw it this afternoon.

What are we doing over there?

And--what happened to the father and his son? Are they alive?

Have we killed them?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

The "haunting" you feel over this poor man and his son must be an incredibly difficult burden to bear. Perhaps you should stop wondering the outcome of these people and start pondering the reason why we detained them in the first place. Perhaps you should concern yourself with the husband and father they killed before they were arrested. Perhaps you should concern yourself with the widow, who after nine long months, is unclear as to whether or not all of her husband was in that casket or if their are still pieces of him out there after he was blown up by the IED this man set.

I realize it can be tough as a citizen of this country that has made NO actual sacrifice for the betterment of this nation. You choose to feel sorry for this man? The "haunting" you feel over this poor man and his son must be an incredibly difficult burden to bear. Perhaps you should stop wondering the outcome of these people and start pondering the reason why we detained them in the first place. Perhaps you should concern yourself with the husband and father they killed before they were arrested. Perhaps you should concern yourself with the widow, who after nine long months, is unclear as to whether or not all of her husband was in that casket or if their are still pieces of him out there after he was blown up by the IED this man set.

I realize it can be tough as a citizen of this country that has made NO actual sacrifice for the betterment of this nation. You choose to feel sorry for this man? What about my daughter that wi
Leslie Malone: What about my daughter that will never, ever know her father first hand? What about my husband that died protecting your right to question our actions? I'm sure that must be one tough burden you bear wondering about the life of that man.

You may not agree with the reasons we are there, but do NOT doubt the integrity of the soldiers that detained this man. Do not belittle the amazing things such as opening schools and hospitals that you appparently know nothing about. Do not oppose the war at the expense of my husband's memory, for that is EXACTLY what you have done here.

Anonymous said...

Rare humanity in a war zone?

Is there such a thing as humanity in a warzone?

He was taken prisoner for a reason. I'm sure it wasn't for stealing something at the flea market.

If you think this picture haunts you, would knowing what he did to be contained haunt you even more?

The Nanny said...

Please accept my sympathy for your loss...and please, let me assure you that I am not in any way doubting the integrity of the soldiers over there. I may oppose the war, but I strongly support the men and women who are fighting overseas. They are making a great sacrifice and I respect and thank them for that.

The Nanny said...

Anonymous #2--this post was mainly about the little boy whose sweet face touched me so deeply. I don't know what that man had been done to be taken prisoner, you're right. But I do know that many innocent people & civilians have been taken or killed by mistake.

And yes, I do believe there is humanity in a war zone. I think this picture illustrates it.

Tracey R. said...

I do not understand why some people believe that one person's, one citizen's, one nation's, humanity trumps another.

I do not understand why some people cannot understand that not supporting a war does not equal not supporting soldiers who are following orders and unjustly sent there.

I do not understand blind allegiance, blind patriotism, blind duty.

I do not understand why, just because someone has not been to a war, they are not qualified to have an educated, thoughtful opinion regarding war.

I do not understand why people believe that death should beget more death. That if someone kills someone, in wartime or not, we should perpetrate those same crimes against the perpetrator. I do not understand why some people cannot see this as hypocritical. Do we not wish to teach our children that violence is not the answer?

I do not understand grieving the loss of parents for our own children, but not feeling the same compassion and humanity for other children, just because they live in a different nation.

Finally, I do not understand railing against someone's views on a blog, but not having the decency or integrity to stand by your own views and hide behind anonymity.

Kudos to you nanny, for responding in such a mature manner and keeping these comments on this blog.

Anonymous said...

My problem is that the public in general is not educated on what goes on in Iraq. Do you know how many schools have been built by our soldiers? Do you know how many hospitals, and sewage lines we have put in for people that were literally shitting in the streets? You, more than likely, do not. You don't know of all of the Iraqi's that bring cakes to our soldiers on a daily basis to thank them for what they are doing. You don't know how many Iraqi lives we have saved by protecting them from other Iraqis.

My issue is that the way some of this is worded so that it leaves the question that this man may have been unjustly detained. There is no mention that I thought for one solitary moment that if this man was killed it was just or deserved.

I never, not once said that I believed in this war and that I followed it blindly. You assumed such. You however, do not understand the military. These men and women have taken an oath to blind duty. They have vowed to do what this president tells them, right or wrong.

Just as the Nanny has the right to question what happened to these people, I have the right to point out some reason he may have been detained. Don't turn my words around to say that I think this man deserved to die. I know nothing of this man. I do not feel sorry for him though. Through my own loss, I'm unable to feel compassion for the man that may have taken my husband from me. I do feel sorry for the child, for he is probably an innocent victim in all of this.

I can say, that if you have not felt the loss, you cannot, and will never be able to understand what the true cost of war is, and I hope you never have to. My husband fought so we here may never know the true cost of war.

Also, until someone close to you has been murdered (because thats what it was), you cannot understand the peace in knowing that the person that took one of the most important things from you, can no longer do that to anyone else.

By the way, I am NOT teaching my daughter that one murder justifies another, and you are wrong to assume such as well.


As for the anonymity...what does it matter what my name is? What does it matter who I am? Would the last picture I have of my husband and daughter together make any real difference to you?

As for the Nanny, I have enjoyed reading your blog for quite sometime now, and I think one of the whole points of blogging is to get people thinking, and you have certainly done that. I cannot, and will not fault you, or anyone else, for envoking the wonderful freedom of speech my husband was so willing to fight for, be it in Iraq, or anywhere else. You are entitled to your opinions, and I, too, admire you for sticking to them whether I agree with you or not.

Anon. #1

Tracey R. said...

I am truly sorry for your loss. I say that sincerity and with compassion. The grief and outrage you are feeling now over your loss is one of the many reasons why I oppose this war. No soldier should be dying in this war.

With that being said, I feel you make many assumptions yourself about what I, or any other citizen who holds similar beliefs to my own, know and do not know about the military, the war, the government, and Iraq. You have no idea what I have read, researched and personally experienced. And regardless of what I HAVE experienced, experience itself does not automatically mean "truth" or "right". That is something I find very disturbing with many military families regarding this and any other war or government decision regarding military security - the belief that because someone in the family is involved in it, that they are automatically "experts" and "right". Would it change your mind to know that I have a brother-in-law in Iraq at this moment? That many of my former students are over in Iraq at the moment? That my cousin is a graduate of Annapolis and a Navy Seal and is god-knows-where (but somewhere dangerous...we can't even know as it would compromise security). If so, why? Why would that make my views more legitimate, entitled or correct?

I know our soldiers have done much good in Iraq.

I know that many Iraqi citizens applaud our involvement.

I know that the military depends on blind obedience to duty.

None of that changes anything I stated in my prior post.

I hope you find peace during your time of grief. Know that just because someone is a pacifist and against many of the tenets of our military, does not mean that we do not honor and recognize the ultimate sacrifice that people like your husband made. I speak as passionately as I do so that more wives like yourself and children like your daughter do not suffer the same anguish. I understand that you may feel that makes me unpatriotic or disloyal to the soldiers, but that is not the intent.

Anonymous said...

We disagree, and that's ok. In fact, it's one of the greatest things about this country. Thank God we don't all have to agree to make this country run.

Anon 1

Monica H said...

"I may oppose the war, but I strongly support the men and women who are fighting overseas. They are making a great sacrifice and I respect and thank them for that."

Well said.

Life ticks on said...

Okay I am not for or against the war. I do oppose the idiots who are out there that say WE (as in AMERICANS) blew up the WTC and that NO ONE died in the planes that went down on 9/11.

Secondly Americans have ALWAYS been act now think later types. LOOK at history it has repeated itself who knows how many times.

Third I have to support what Anon says. I JOINED the military. One of the very first things they asked us when we were in bootcamp was are you ready for war? If not get out NOW. Why? because you never know what will come. You have no way of predicting when you will be called upon to serve in a country other than our own. You may be sent in as a peace keeper or you may be there to defend people who are unable to defend themselves (like many Iraqis). To be honest I do not trust pictures from any correspondent "embedded" with a unit, because quite frankly many of the pictures are old and do not tell the whole picture. As has been going on since 9/11 MANY MANY MANY journalists have lied or led the Americans as well as the whole world to think that what we have done is so wrong and bad. Our own journalists are liers and yellow bellied idiots who want to incite riots at home with these pictures that are not accurate. I wish I could link you to my friends blog. She is a photographer and she just posted this excellent post showing how she can doctor a picture and make it so much more dramatic than the original. This is what the media does. The other thing they do is lie straight up about what they see. Why because it sells more.

Everyone wants this war to be over. Well thats all fine and dandy but honestly when whoever becomes president this time around hurries and pulls us out of Iraq and doesnt finish what has begun... WHOA be unto you, your children and grandchildren... because all of this will all start up all over again. WHEN THEY are the ones who will be hurt. My dad was in Vietnam. My dad was in the first conflict over there. Now my husband has been in this one. Yeah its a cycle. It will keep on going around.

This person may not have done anything or he may have raped a woman or dropped an explosive. Whatever he did we dont know and will never know because this "journalist" cant tell you anymore other than to get your inner turmoil roiling. Its not fun to see stuff like that. It wasnt fun when my husbands boat was shot at (and missed). It wasnt fun when he was gone for 8 mos. It was AWESOME to know he was there to help the people when the earthquake hit Pakistan... they were able to detach and bring immediate aid and then came back with more aid a few weeks later. Something we would have done any which way but because we were already in the area it didnt take months to get it there.

For almost every negative photo we are shown there are very few positive ones. Ones that show the men and women in uniforms who go to the hospitals and hold children. Instead we see negative here there and everywhere. Its the press dictating what and how we see things.

d said...

ok... first off. For the people who talk about what this man did, was his son in on it? Just like you are asking the nanny to not judge before knowing the full situation, do not assume that this man and his family did something awful. He may just be a suspect and was eventually set free, or he may have bombed something. We just don't know. That doesn't mean that the picture isn't heart wrenching.

There was a picture a while ago that won many many many awards. It was of a little girl who was so starved that you could see every rib in her body. She was crouched in pain and fatigue. A vulture was waiting besider her, waiting for her to die. The picture was so moving, but the photographer committed suicide a few months after winning all of his awards because so many people sent him hate mail that asked him why he didn't save the girl and how he could be so inhumane to just leave a girl dying on the ground just for a stupid picture.

well, that picture not only sent a wave of emotion throughout the country, but a wave of support as well to make Africa a safer, healthier place. To the other posters, try to not view this as an anti-war piece, trying criticize the soldiers. If anything, this poster makes me support the soldiers (but maybe not the war) even more. they are making the world a safer place and sacrificing their lives for it. Of course, everyone has a different interpretation, but I don't think this picture is meant to push an idea or opinion, it is just showing you what is going on. If someone could take a good picture of a school that was built, which was mentioned in the comments above, I would be saying the same thing. It's supposed to be informative, not attacking, and the nanny was just expressing what the picture made her feel. The picture is disturbing, and like I said, we don't know what happened, which makes it even more emotional because some will get angry, thinking about the people who should be in prison for attacking us, and some will get sad, assuming the goodness in every human and hoping that this man and his son were not evil but lost or misguided or wrongfully placed in prison.

So take this picture as you please, but I think what the photogropher was trying to do was spread knowledge and try to get people to see things from different perspectives.

sorry if this was preachy. just ranting.

Anonymous said...

that is the problem D the photographer isnt being open... if he was he would have followed up in some way. You cant post something that you KNOW will be controversial and not clarify it. Its funny how we are supposed to see how bad that situation is but how can we when we are only given half the story. When the media actually shows the WHOLE story maybe we as a people will be able to be informed but that isnt the goal of the modern journalist it appears.

Anonymous said...

that is the problem D the photographer isnt being open... if he was he would have followed up in some way. You cant post something that you KNOW will be controversial and not clarify it. Its funny how we are supposed to see how bad that situation is but how can we when we are only given half the story. When the media actually shows the WHOLE story maybe we as a people will be able to be informed but that isnt the goal of the modern journalist it appears.

Furrow said...

Images like this keep finding me lately. Not just war, but all kinds of despair. Unmitigatable despair. I keep crying. I'm sorry for the little boy. I'm sorry for the woman above who lost her husband. I'm sorry for her daughter. I'm sorry for us all.

The Nanny said...

Amen, Furrow.