Sometimes You Don’t Know What You Have

I shot this photo today of Steve, a 21-year-old man just back from Afghanistan. He won several medals while he was there, and his grandmother is from Fryeburg. I’m writing something up for our 9/11 10 year anniversary edition. Steve is going to send me some photos of him from while he was in Afghanistan, so the photo was an afterthought. I was flipping through the images on my computer tonight, however, and I came upon this one. Now, granted, I know he was part of team that was attacked after an IED attack, and he was one of those who counterattacked and maybe saved someone’s life. I also know he was at his base when IDF—indirect fire—started raining down, and he and the rest of his platoon left the protection of the bunker to respond with M240 Bravos. And I know when I was his age I just as easily could have joined the army because my hometown seemed boring. But the fact is I look at this photo, his anchored gaze, and it catches me. I feel like he can see me now, hours after I thanked him for his service. It is an incredibly powerful image, because it shows just who is risking and sacrificing for the United States: kids. Well-intentioned, friendly kids. Kids who loved the Red Sox in 2001, when the war he just returned from started.

That’s why I love photojournalism—one photo can change your entire day, your entire experience, your entire life. One shot can tell a story. This one does for me.

(Unfortunately the colors don’t reproduce well here. I’ve got to figure that out.)

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