Friday Faves: My personal picks of (mostly) unpublished images from the archive…
As Memorial Day weekend approaches it is good to remember the sacrifices many have made so that we may live in a free society. We may not always agree with our political leaders, we may not support militarism or the military, but at least we (usually) have the freedom to disagree.
I met Charles in 1986 while I was a high school junior. He stepped on a land mine in Vietnam and lost both his legs along with three of his platoon mates. He was a native of Fargo, N.D., and had returned there after his service to live in a VA housing facility. As far as I could tell, Charles had no family and only a few friends at the VA center. He was a dawn-to-dusk drinker, and had some pretty crazy tales to tell from Vietnam and after. Still, he wasn’t bitter or angry about losing his legs, he just wanted people to “get” him.
My encounters with Charles over several crisp January days in Fargo were the inspiration for a photo series on disabled Vietnam veterans. Unfortunately, I was ill prepared as a 16 year old student photojournalist to bring that to completion. But this photo of Charles making his way along the snowy sidewalk in sub-zero weather is one from within the series I’ve always cherished. It is a tribute to Charles’ courage – on the battlefield and at home.
Either in spite of (or because of) my brief friendship with Charles, I entered the Navy following high school and, not being cut from the military cloth, served my initial enlistment period before going to college.
Nikon FE2 with 85mm/f2 lens on Kodachrome 64 film.