Sunday, January 15, 2006

A tribute for service members and families

Many people say this is the most important photograph of the Iraq war. Some have called it "a national treasure." The image most completely embodies my experience throughout Iraq.

Countless people have asked for reprints, but I wanted to give the matter some thought. I did not want to diminish the symbolism of this photograph, and the American soldiers who risked their lives to save this little girl.

I more than espoused this belief, I lived it: I have not accepted advertisements on this site, and my first 7 months of work in Iraq were completely without compensation. When I reached the point where my equipment was ruined and my resources exhausted, I had to choose between stopping the work altogether or rethinking my independence. I solved both problems by accepting reader support.

When these soldiers finally returned to the United States after a year of hard fighting they asked my permission to present a copy of the photograph to Bruce Willis at “The Punishers’ Ball.” Of course, I agreed. I respect these men beyond simple description, and when I saw the photo so tastefully framed, I realized that it made a beautiful gift.

It occurred to me that even national treasures have practical costs associated with them. No one protests the admission fees or government supports that maintain and preserve their legacy. Museums don't diminish the value of art when they sell prints in a gift shop. I'm not claiming to be Picasso, and this blog is hardly the Louvre, but my readers have convinced me that this image inspires them and I've learned to listen to my readers.

I’ve decided to offer a limited number of photographs, available in two formats.

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