Of Veterans and Photographers
As we enter November, the memories of Halloween with its decaying pumpkins and leftover candy is in the rearview mirror, and the year’s gastronomic holiday, Thanksgiving, lies ahead. Before we arrive at turkey day, we have one day of remembrance we should not overlook—Veteran’s Day.
Veteran’s Day—November 11th—originated as Armistice Day. Armistice Day commemorated the armistice that took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, in the year 1918, that ended World War I, then referred to as the “war to end all wars”. In 1938, Congress declared November 11 as Veteran’s Day, a day to honor all military veterans.
One way to honor veterans is to share our photography. Last year, I attended a summer parade in my small central Minnesota hometown. Leading the parade was the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and American Legion color guard. These veterans were the adults of my youth, men who were my Dad’s contemporaries and co-workers. Now, they are old men. I photographed them and later gave each of them a print. The veterans and their families were grateful.
I’d like to share a story of a veteran who was a photographer. The Army sent Charlie Haughey, then 24 years old, to Vietnam as a photographer. When Charlie left Vietnam in 1969, he took with him his collection of hundreds of photographic negatives. He returned home and placed the negatives into storage, where they remained for over 40 years. A few years ago, Charlie opened the boxes of negatives, and with the help of a friend, scanned them. This was the first time Charlie had seen some of the images. He shared the images with professional photographers. The photographers were speechless—the images were raw, powerful. After much encouragement, Charlie displayed his images.
When Charlie shot the images, his goal was for the images to tell a story without the aid of captions. He succeeded.
Visit the below links to learn more about Charlie Haughey and to view his images.
Charlie’s photos and story on “The Big Picture” at Boston.com.
The Chieu-Hoi project, featuring Charlie’s photos, story, and book project on Tumblr. Be sure to drill into this site by clicking on the links–a great story.
Link to National Public Radio’s “The Story”, where you can listen to an interview with Charlie (I highly recommend).