Posted by: beattieblog | July 15, 2008

“There is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs.”

The above quote from Dwight Eisenhower summed up my feeling in coming across this story from PRI and the Washington Post yesterday. I’ve always loved photography for its ability to do something humans only dream of: freeze time. A picture instantly slices off a portion of history and holds it just as it is – ready for us to return to again and again. Warren Zinn was the embedded photographer on hand to iconize Army medic Joseph Dwyer in 2004. Here’s the progression of Dwyer rushing to help a young Iraqi boy (slideshow is here). The final photo became the famous image:
This photo and the next show the sequence of events leading up to the famous image of Dwyer carrying Sattar that made front pages worldwide in March 2003.
This photo and the previous one show the sequence of events leading up to the famous image of Dwyer carrying Sattar that made front pages worldwide in March 2003.
In March 2003, photographer Warren Zinn took this photo of Army medic Joseph Dwyer with wounded 4-year-old Iraqi Ali Sattar. Dwyer struggled with PTSD and died June 28 of substance abuse.
Like all good soldiers, reporters found that Dwyer was a bit embarrassed by the attention he received when all around him other soldiers were heroically serving. But Dwyer was a hero and the image of him carrying this young boy moved any American with a pulse to at least a fleeting moment of pride in the conduct of this, one of our soldiers. This is what we hope to see of all the men and women of our military, regardless of our opinion of the ‘rightness’ of the war. Unfortunately, Dwyer returned from Iraq battling anxiety and PTSD. He overdosed last week on prescription medication in Pinehurst, N.C. Dwyer’s mom said in a Newsday article:

“He loved the picture, don’t get me wrong, but he just couldn’t get over
the war,” his mother, Maureen Dwyer, said by telephone from her home in
Sunset Beach, N.C. “He wasn’t Joseph anymore. Joseph never came home.”

Dwyer’s parents said they tried to get help for their son, appealing to
Army and Veterans Affairs officials. Although he was treated off and on
in VA facilities, he was never able to shake his anxieties.

Dwyer became the ‘face’ of the rebuilding efforts in Iraq four years ago. Today, may the story of Dwyer’s life and struggles increase the aid returning soldiers who are battling PTSD deserve. You can read a full obituary on Dwyer here.

Finally, speaking for myself, I can draw a straight line from Joseph Dwyer’s story and Barack Obama’s Op-ed piece, “My Plan for Iraq,” in yesterday’s New York Times. Maybe you can too.





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