Two boxes, 8.5 years

The Friday Photo
May 29,2015


We’re downsizing today. These two boxes are filled with documents spanning 8.5 years (and counting) of some of the most difficult, rewarding, and meaningful work I will ever do.

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We have failed our heroes

Today is Memorial, or Decoration Day, a day of pause begun decades ago for decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers.

The long weekend is now dominated by stores holding big sales, high school graduations, blockbuster movie openings, and the unofficial beginning of summer. 

Today media outlets will provide us with beautiful photos of thousands of small flags doting the graves of the heroes buried in Arlington. The President will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown and make some remarks. Local television will update viewers on local ceremonies at 6:00 and 11:00 tonight. 

Before the day ends, our country will have 22 more veterans to mourn, soldiers whose lives where cut short due to their willingness to serve in our armed forces. 

The United States spends billions on waging wars with no exit strategies. Our fighting forces are built on the backs of the poor, officers who tolerate sexual assault and intimidation, and military families who can’t afford to feed their children without food stamps. 

Even worse, when our soldiers return, we fail to provide them with the services they need and deserve. 

Our failure as a country is why 22 veterans will kill themselves before Memorial Day comes to an end. Twenty-two brave volunteers who came forward, and survived, will reach their breaking point today and succeed in ending their pain and agony. Twenty-two families, made up of parents, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, will begin preparations to bury their soldier.

Because there are war injuries we can’t see with our eyes, we fail to see them with our hearts.

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We’ve seen the photos

The Friday Photo
April 17, 2015

Twenty years ago we saw heartbreaking photos of heroes and the injured escaping from the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Instead of pouring over the pictures from that awful day, listen to stories of survival told by Christopher Nguyen and his mother Phuong, and PJ Allen and his father Willie Watson, both recorded by NPR’s Story Corps.

 

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