Graphic Photos of Dead U.S. Soldiers: Who Should See Them?

Every morning, well most mornings, I get up at around 7 a.m.-ish, eat a light breakfast, write for an hour or so and then run to the local gym where I exercise for about 30 minutes before running back to my apartment. The run is not too long, maybe a half mile each way and together with the workout eats up about an 60-70 minutes of my day. During that time of physical activity I typically listen to a podcast. Most of the time it’s a sports podcast, but I also mix in some political, literary and culture-related podcasts. One podcast that I love — that was introduced to me by our editor-in-chief David Higginbotham — is “Radiolab.”

If you’re not familiar with Radiolab it’s officially described as a “a radio show and podcast weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries,” hosted by two amiable fellows Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. How would I describe it? Simply, very compelling, science-centric narratives.

So, this morning as I was running to the gym I was listening to the latest Radiolab podcast, titled, “Sight Unseen,” about a photojournalist, Lynsey Addario, for Time Magazine and her encounter with a Marine who was fatally wounded in 2009 while on a night patrol in Afghanistan. It was utterly gripping. I highly recommend you listen to it. And because of that I won’t give too much away.

However, what I will say as kind of an anecdote is that while I was at the gym listening to it I began to get emotional. For me, getting emotional, that’s very rare. My eyes were welling up with tears as I was doing shoulder raises to the point where I had to stop working out altogether and collect myself or risk crying in public, which would have been quite awkward in the weight room. Can you imagine?

In any event, I point that out because I hope this story will resonate with you as well. Maybe it won’t to the degree it did with me, but you should find it to be rather touching. Plus, it reminds us all that the sacrifices of our veterans and their families should not be forgotten, minimized or dismissed. Our veterans are the reason why this country is so great.

Listen and enjoy! And if you’d like to, feel free to weigh in on the questions they raise about military photographs. Right now, I’m not sure how I feel but to say I think that Time Magazine made the right call in this particular case.

Here is how Radiolab described the podcast:

In December of 2009, photojournalist Lynsey Addario was embedded with a medevac team in Afghanistan. After days of waiting, one night they got the call – a marine was gravely wounded. What happened next happens all the time. But this time it was captured, picture by picture, in excruciating detail. Horrible, difficult, and at times strikingly beautiful, those photos raise some questions: Who should see them, who gets to decide who should see them, and what can pictures like that do, to those of us far away from the horrors of war and those of us who are all too close to it?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Slim May 7, 2015, 7:36 pm

    I agree with Draino. On a side note SOFREP podcast are awesome. Many stories of brave men sacrificing their lives for this country on that podcast as well.

  • DRAINO May 7, 2015, 9:17 am

    As a warrior who has never had to be in that position….I agree. I don’t want to ever be in that position…..I pray no one ever has to be in that position. But If I was, I would think it a private and solemn time. Not one to be publicized or exploited. And I would be proud to be there if, heaven forbid, I should ever have to be in that position. God Bless our Soldiers!!!

  • Will Drider May 6, 2015, 2:54 pm

    I don’t need to check out the podcast to know what it contained. Been there. Regardless of the emotions it stirs in all the spectators it is a private time. There may have been heroic efforts before during and after the death but recording and narrating a wounded a Marines death is WRONG! The public is not entitled to this. Nothing is gained listening to a chest gurgle, hearing him call for his mom or the last air wheezing from his lungs. Don’t be a gawker like those who look for the bodies at a car wreck. I understand that reporting this close up may bring a real world understanding of the loss that is repeated day after day. I still say it is a private time between the Warrior and his Brothers in Arms
    We do need to Nationally show the faces of our Fallen Service members. Having a “Walter Cronkite” just add the daily loss numbers to the totals doesn’t cut it.
    Honor the Warrior, remember his sacrafice and take care of his Family.

    • Jonny5 December 11, 2017, 6:13 pm

      It’s tasteless but maybe the public seeing more of that would cause them to ask, “What ARE we doing there?” and “Is this a worthwhile venture?” Let’s stop talking about heroic deaths and stop sending our soldiers to die in “heroic” misadventures abroad.

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