Christina A. Sharik

THE REALITY OF WAR

We Regret To Inform You ~

Two Uniforms walking up the steps.

One folded flag,
clutched in cold, sweaty hands.

One Son
One Daughter
One Father, One Mother
Someone’s Sister
Someone’s Brother,
killed on foreign sands.

One Casket
at a time,
they come home.

A mother and a wife
are left alone.

A father weeps
too quietly,

and a child does
not yet understand,
that his father will be
just a dim
memory.

This is what happens
when we seek to make men free.

This is what they give
for you and me.

One at a time
They’ll come home ~
In one way or another…
to a joyful, tear-soaked reunion
or a heart-broken dad and mother.

Mary McHugh: Memorial Day 2007
Mary McHugh at the grave of her late fiancé, James Regan: Arlington National Cemetery – Memorial Day 2007

The photo – widely published in newspapers – shows a distraught Mary McHugh lying on her stomach in front of the grave of her late fiancé, James Regan, who was killed in Iraq this February by a roadside bomb. The picture was taken at Arlington National Cemetery during Memorial Day weekend.

“She sat in front of the grave… talking to the stone,” wrote Moore, who has been a photojournalist in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past five years. “She spoke in broken sentences between sobs, gesturing with her hands, sometimes pausing as if she was trying to explain, with so much left needed to say…

Clearly, she had not only loved him but also truly admired him. When he graduated from Duke, he decided to enlist in the Army to serve his country. He chose not to be an officer, though he could have been, because he didn’t want to risk a desk job. Instead, he became an Army Ranger and was sent twice to Afghanistan and Iraq – an incredible four deployments in just three years.”

Moore concluded: “Some people feel the photo I took at the moment was too intimate, too personal. Like many who have seen the picture, I felt overwhelmed by her grief, and moved by the love she felt for her fallen sweetheart.

After so much time covering these wars, I have some difficult memories and have seen some of the worst a person can see – – so much hatred and rage, so much despair and sadness; all that destruction, so much killing. And now, one beautiful and terribly sad spring afternoon amongst the rows and rows of marble stones – a young woman’s lost love.

I felt I owed the Arlington National Cemetery a little time – and I think I still do. Maybe we all do.”