(Hat tip to Seamus)
Joe Puglia requests that I post his open letter to the AP journalists who published the photo of LCpl Joshua Bernard as he lay wounded in Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Bernard died on an operating table soon after this photo was taken.
His father, Marine 1stSgt Bernard, requested that they do not publish this photo (I will not here at OMV).
I’ve starred much too long at this empty computer screen and I’m not sure I have the words to express what I’m felling regarding Julie Jacobson, of the Associated Press (AP) and her photograph of Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard as he lay dying in some thankless, nameless, stinking village in Afghanistan. I also anguish over AP’s CEO Tom Curley, and staff members Kathleen Carroll, and John Daniszewski’s decision to distribute and publish the picture.
But you, Mr. Lyon, director of photography, don’t! Don’t even try to tell me that it is your journalistic duty to show the reality of war however unpleasant and brutal that it sometimes is. It’s the arrogance and pomposity of your profession that irks me. You think you are above simple decency to capture the last moments of a Marine and irresponsibly distribute it for publication. You rationalize the pain that you have caused the parents of Lance Corporal Bernard as your journalistic duty. How can you do that?
I know better, Mr. Lyon; I’ve seen your predecessors in Vietnam. I’ve watched journalists and listened to them on helicopters rides, in bars, at dinner, and in the field, and I have seen very little altruistic endeavor. With you guys, it’s always the story, always the story, trying to capture that one picture reporting on the sensationalism of the moment caring little of the emotions, feelings, and privacy of the soldiers who fight and die in these goddamn wars. I’ve seen them as they stick their cameras in the face of grieving soldiers asking them…”How do you feel?” How do you feel about the loss of your buddies? Many of your predecessors never gave a damn how we felt.
In his book, “Good-bye Darkness,” renowned author, William Manchester recounts his life as a 17-year-old Marine fighting in the Pacific in World War ll. He addresses the debilitating affects that irresponsible journalism had on the populace.
Let me tell you something! What I remember is that the soldier did not want you out there with them. You were a liability. You got in the way. You never had the respect of the grunts. You were never trusted. You were never for them. Your presence often curtailed the aggressiveness of unit commanders, causing them to hesitate for fear of the editorials you might write as to the conduct of the war they prosecuted. We lost men because of that.
Mr. Curley, Mr. Lyon, Mr. Daniszewski, Ms. Carroll, and Ms. Jacobson I do not know your heart. Maybe your rationale as to why you published the picture is a sincere reflection of what we both hope for, peace. I am wrong for pre-judging you and mixing your motives with those journalists who reported over forty years ago. You deserve my apology; but what you did was wrong. But I understand the fog of war and that keeps you from seeing reality. If I have pre-judged your intentions in error, then you too are a victim of war, but unlike the soldiers, your wounds are minimal.
Ms. Jacobson, I struggle with your decision when you mentioned that you initially thought of helping and aiding Lance Corporal Bernard but instead continued to take pictures. I will give you the benefit of the doubt, because I wasn’t there. I wish you resolve and peace regarding your decision not to help. If it were me, I would never have any peace.
Do I have an axe to grind? You’re damn right I do! But 40 years ago, you journalists had one too.
Marines fight and die. That’s what they do. And all we can give them as they pass to the next world is decency. But you couldn’t even do that, could you?