Friday, May 06, 2005

The Photograph

By now, you've seen the photo; a U.S. solider, cradling a dying Iraqi girl in his arms. Just moments before, the young girl had been fatally wounded by a terrorist bomb. Despite the best efforts of the solider--a U.S. Army Major--and a combat medic, the child could not be saved. She died moments after the photograph was taken.

Of all the images we've seen from Iraq, I can't think of any that better illustrates the difference between our troops and the terrorists they battle on a daily basis. Before the blast, Iraqi children had been crowding around U.S. vehicles, laughing and waving. It was at that moment that a suicide bomber, driving a vehicle packed with explosives, chose to attack, attempting to create casualties among Iraq's children. American soldiers responded, as they always do, by trying to rescue the victims and ease their suffering.

But there's more to this story. Free-lance journalist Michael Yon, who snapped that photograph, relates the entire episode in his blog. The solider in the photograph is U.S. Army Major Mark Beiger, assigned to the 1-24 Infantry Regiment (the Deuce Four) of the 25th Infantry Division. Major Beiger sounds like a remarkable soldier, as do his comrades in the 1-24. We are indeed fortunate to have men of this caliber wearing our nation's uniform.

Read the blog, particularly Yon's 1 May entry, "The Battle for Mosul." It's some of the best reporting I've read from Iraq, and reminds me of Ernie Pyle's classic dispatches from World War II. No geopolitical analysis, or subtext, just straight coverage of brave men in battle. As you read the post, please note when the "rest" of the media arrived, including that CBS camerman with alleged terrorist ties. Compare their accounts to Mike Yon's report, and you'll see just how shallow and biased their coverage really is.

Turns out that Mike Yon is a pretty remarkable fellow as well. He's a former Green Beret earned his SF qualification before his 21st birthday. Later, he was falsely accused of murder in Maryland, and had to battle police and prosecutors to save his reputation and his life. Yon has written about in his experiences in a highly-praised, self-published memoir entitled Danger Close. I look forward to reading his book.

One final thought: in another era, Yon's photograph would be a shoo-in for a Pulitzer. But, as we know, the Pulitzer jury is infected with political correctness, and shuns journalism that appears too favorable toward the U.S. in general, and the American military in particular. A few weeks back, the jury awarded its annual prize for Breaking News Photography to the Associated Press. Among the pictures cited by the jury was an infamous image of terrorists executing election workers in the streets of Baghdad. Turns out that the AP photographer may have been tipped off by the insurgents. At last report, the AP had not returned its Pulitzer, and the photographer is still covering the war in Iraq. That speaks volumes about the state of American journalism.

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