US Military Cemetery in Normandy


The idea for this project came to me during my research for a History course I was taking several years back. I was reading this great article that was discussing the realities of war, and the detachment that people in the United States have with what war is really like. It came from an unlikely source—LIFE Magazine. This was a time before journalism was sensational entertainment. The news was real, and the events were important. LIFE was being criticized for posting pictures of wounded soldiers, and for capturing the realities of the battle field. In response to this criticism, LIFE had this to say:

Once again LIFE prints grim pictures of war, well knowing that once again they will dismay and outrage thousands and thousands of readers. But today’s two great continuing news events are two wars—one in China, and one in Spain…Obviously LIFE cannot ignore nor suppress these two great news events in pictures. As events, they have an authority far more potent than any editors’ policy or readers’ squeamishness. But LIFE could conceivably choose to show pictures of these events that make them look attractive. They are not, however, attractive events…Americans’ noble and sensible dislike of war is largely based on ignorance of what modern war really is…The love of peace has no meaning or not stamina unless it is based on a knowledge of war’s terrors…Dead men have indeed died in vain if live men refuse to look at them.

That struck me, because it was true of myself. I don’t know what war is like. I’ve never been in one, I have never seen these images. And I listened to the news. They discussed wars, and the number of casualties that occurred that month. The tallied the number of American lives lost. But that was it—they were left as nameless bullet points and simple statistics. They didn’t show the damage. My idea of what war looked like was what I saw in movies and on T.V. So I started looking, and started realizing that war is horrific. It impacts more than just soldiers, and doesn’t just leave families to mourn losses. It’s devastating.

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