Sunday, November 22, 2009



I am a proud American and I support our men and women of the Armed Forces. The following photos and stories involve the depth of love and the ultimate sacrifice facing our troops and their families. Please view them with the respect and honor they deserve.

The 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography went to National Press Phototographers Association member Todd Heisler of the The Rocky Mountain News for this photographic series Final Salute,” the emotional and heartbreaking story of U.S. Marines whose job it is to break the bad news of a soldier’s death to families and to escort their war-torn bodies home for burial.

First Place 
Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News

When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport , Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac.

During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport , Major Steve Beck described the scene as so powerful: 'See the people in the windows? They sat right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home,' he said 'They will remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should.'

Second Place 
Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News 

The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. 'I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,' she said. 'I think that's what he would have wanted' 
All of the above photos and commentary came from a web site dedicated to love and sexuality in art and journalism. To view the complete series of photos in this story please visit:

Last, but in no sense, not the least, is this heartbreaking photo of Mary McHugh at the grave of her finance' Sgt. James Regan in Arlington National Cemetery.

John Moore recorded an image of Mary McHugh at the grave of her fiance Sgt. James John Regan (who was killed by an IED explosion in Iraq in February 2007) at Arlington National Cemetery, May 27, 2007.
(Click on the image if you wish to view it individually.)
Mary McHugh, the fiancé of a James Regan, moved a thousand mourners to tears with her touching tribute at his funeral.  “Jimmy was a hero to many, but he was always very humble,” she said of her beloved.  “He always sought team success and not personal glory.”

Regan was to marry McHugh, a medical student at Emory University, when his Army service ended.  He was killed in February 2007 by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

“Jimmy and I were so excited to stand up in front of God, our family and friends and declare our love for each other,” McHugh said.  ”Only God knows why we were deprived of that opportunity, but it doesn’t change the sentiments I have.”

Regan, an All-American lacrosse player and All-State football scholar at Chaminade High School in Mineola, graduated from Duke University five years ago.  He was deeply affected by the 9/11 terror attacks, which claimed many lives in Manhasset, and turned down a position at financial services firm UBS and deferred a scholarship to Southern Methodist University Law School to join the Army in 2004.  He had earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

After reading a love letter Regan wrote to her, McHugh said in a passionate whisper, “Jimmy, we never got to wake up next to each other every morning.  Jimmy, I will wake up every morning and thank God for the opportunity to love and be loved by you.”

McHugh remembered Regan as someone who always wore a smile and “simply wanted to be happy and make others around him happy.” Regan’s father, also named James, said his son did just that.

“Last week in Iraq the bell tolled for Jimbo and he gave the ultimate sacrifice,” the grieving father said. “You have done your duty, son, as you saw it.  You are a wonderful son.”
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The unknown author of Sexuality and Love writes:

The above photo has been the source of some controversy.  There are some forces that would like to suppress its publication.  Some feel that publicizing honest images, such as this one, conveying the gravity of our losses, serves to undermine the war efforts in Iraq. 

Forgive me, because I do not have an articulate stance on the war in Iraq.  The conflicts there are beyond my reasoning and aptitudes to solve.  I do believe in more aggressively pursuing non-violent solutions to violent problems. 

I believe censorship of honest information about the war will not help Americans make more informed decisions about the reality of the violence and the severity of our losses.  This blog focuses on mature, complex and real issues deserving more candor, attention, discussion, and merit.  My deepest and sincerest condolences to the family, friends, and fiancé of James Regan. 

The above photo can be found in many places on the internet by doing a simple Google image search for “Mary McHugh” or “James Regan.”  It can also be obtained through the Getty service for use in media outlets.
The above photo is an important human document.  In a moment, it clearly communicates undeniable and compelling love.  It will be important 100 years from now.  If a similar Civil War photo existed of a woman at the grave of her fiancé, it would be immeasurably valuable to our cultural experience.  If a similar WW II photo existed of a German widow at her deceased husband’s grave, the artwork would be a timeless and important image about the realities of war and universality of grief.

Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing blue every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority' We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing.

Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar, will wear something blue. By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of blue much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the USA is covered in BLUE and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on. The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is, 'We need your support and your prayers.' Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something blue every Friday.

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