WARNING: EMOTIONAL CONTENT.
Memorial Day morning…
Lest we forget, with our church retreats, picnics, the beach or sleeping in,
Take a time this morning or evening to remember those who have fallen in during times of war…
Out of all the pictures I’ve seen, I think this has got to be the most riveting for me of all the pictures concerning Iraq…
The picture of a Marine’s casket (a 2nd. Lt. Cathey, who left behind his pregnant wife) as contrast to the plane and the people looking out of the window…the contrast is beautifully captured and is almost surreal.
Enough with my words. THis picture was part of a series that won the pulizter prize…reading the 19 pages, you would know why. Have tissues nearby, it is very emotional.
The picture in its context:
The American Airlines 757 couldn’t have landed much farther from the war. The plane arrived in Reno on a Friday evening, the beginning of the 2005 “Hot August Nights” festival — one of the city’s biggest—filled with flashing lights, fireworks,care free music and plenty of gambling. When a young Marine in dress uniform had boarded the plane to Reno, the passengers smiled and nodded politely. None knew he had just come from the plane’s cargo hold, after watching his best friend’s casket loaded on board.
At 24 years old, Sgt. Gavin Conley was only seven days younger than the man in the coffin.The two had met as 17-year-olds on another plane — the one to boot camp in California. They had slept in adjoining top bunks,the two youngest recruitsin the barracks.
All Marines call each other brother. Conley and Jim Cathey could have been.They finished each other’s
sentences, had matching infantry tattoo setched on their shoulders, and cracked on each other as if they had grown up together— which, in some ways, they had.
When the airline crew found out about Conley’s mission, they bumped him to first-class. He had never flown there before. Neither had Jim Cathey. On the flight, the woman sitting next to him nodded toward his uniform and asked if he was coming or going. To the war,she meant.
He fell back on the words the military had told him to say: “I’m escorting a fallen Marine home to his family from the situationin Iraq.”
The woman quietly said she was sorry, Conley said. Then she began to cry.
When the plane landed in Nevada, the pilot asked the passengers to remain seated while Conley disembarked alone.
Then the pilot told them why.
The passengers pressed their faces against the windows.
Outside, a procession walked toward the plane. Passengers in window seats leaned back to give others a better view. One held a child up to watch.
From their seats in the plane, they saw a hearse and a Marine extending a white-gloved hand into a limousine,helping a pregnant woman out of the car.
On the tarmac, Katherine Cathey wrapped her arm around the major’s, steadying herself. Then her eyes locked on the cargohold and the flag-draped casket.
Inside the plane, they couldn’t hear the screams.