Winter 2006 Editorial
Rarely does a picture make me cry.
But twice in less than as many months, I have sat in bed with my laptop on
my legs, felt my chest involuntarily fill with air, and had uncontrollable
sobs rip through me like thunder from the sky.
When I saw Heisler's photo of
2ndLt Cathey's pregnant, devoted wife camp next to his casket so that she
could spend a last night with him.
When I saw Heisler's photo of an
eagle's feather tucked between the folded hands of the corpse of Cpl. Brett Lundstrom.
I've seen hundreds, if not
thousands of outstanding photos from America's newspaper's photo
departments. Many, most in fact, are far better than they are ever given
But Heisler is unique: his photos
each paint across a vast canvas. They are stories. They each could stand
alone, and any viewer would be moved, would understand that he has used
discretion, and excellent judgment, and yet revealed something intimate and
extremely personal that most of us, God willing, will never experience in
So when collected, when one
reviews the Cathey gallery published in Time Magazine, or the
gallery published by Heisler's own Rocky Mountain News, the experience is
riveting, and inspiring and life changing.
Life changing because we see why
these fallen Marines are among the greatest Americans who ever lived.
Because only Marines, and their devotion to each other and insistence that
each be laid to rest with precision honor - only Marines truly know what
that fallen Marine has given us. Heisler's galleries bring ordinary
Americans though closer to that understanding, by the glorious art he
creates and the strength he captures.
I had the honor of speaking to
him momentarily recently. I asked him for an interview. He was very gracious
and said he'd call, but hasn't, for which I completely understand. The whole
world wants his attention and rightly so.
But I was able to tell him what
was in my heart: that he had revealed to me that he had taken the time and
courage to build a trusting relationship with the Marine Corps, one which
gave him the access for the Cathey photos.
He is a very brave man, and
clearly one with strong ethics and convictions. And through that, and that
alone, he is revealing the Corps, like no other photojournalist in civilian
God bless him.