Sunday, May 26, 2013

MEMORIAL DAY



"American Legion Convention, Dallas, Texas" is a disorganized slice-of-life on a street corner. One elderly veteran has his arms crossed over his chest and looks up at the sky. Another stands looking out into space, his hands in his pockets. Other people wait to cross the street. A man slouches against the building. And an apparently legless man lies on the pavement, his forearms extended like paws.
The photograph was taken in 1964, but it comes across as neither a patriotic nor an anti-Vietnam War statement. (Winogrand abandoned his interest in politics during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis because, he said, of the feeling it gave him of his own powerlessness.) The power of the image comes from the vacuum that has formed around the legless man. But you can read into it whatever you wish, or nothing at all."
--From a June 28, 1989 art review by LA Time staff writer Cathy Curtis on the photographs of Garry Winogrand entitled "Winogrand's Camera Prowls the Street."


3 comments:

  1. I began watching the Memorial Day concert on PBS, and about two songs in, I thought of: well, believe it or not, Heather, I thought of you. I thought of your very noble outrage over our nation's frequently misguided foreign policy. I thought of how many tragedies we would not have to endure or relate if our commanders-in-chief were more prudent in their use of the military. I thought of the beautiful voices of the young ladies singing the patriotic songs, and I thought of the unbeautiful nature of war.

    I respect the soldiers who serve, I commiserate with those who have been injured, and I mourn those who have fallen -- to the extent that I say a prayer each time I pass the field in my hometown dedicated to the memory of a 28-year-old lieutenant who died in Vietnam. I have had a cousin over in Iraq, so I don't want to appear to criticize the soldiers. Especially since my knowledge of what they go through is at a very comfortable second hand.

    But our decision-makers, our presidents of recent vintage: I do not think that these men merit our uncritical veneration. (I begin to admire those politicians whom our opinionmakers tell us are "fringe" characters: Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich. What is so contemptible about their commitment to peace?)

    And yes, Heather, that is an incredible story out of Lourdes.

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  2. Dear Heather,

    I thank you for your continued reflections on non-violence. You present us with a consistent and unblinking look at Jesus' life in the Gospels and our Christian response to His call. Very helpful during these times.

    There was a website that ran from about 2001 until 2009 or so, "Pray the News". A Carmelite order in the Indianapolis area posted their reflections on the news of the day. They also presented their readers with how to pray contemplatively in response to events of the day. I found out about this site right before "9/11" and it helped enormously. I find that you, too, "Pray the News" in much the same way.

    I finally started reading Paul Elie's book on Day, Merton, O'Connor and Percy, ("The Life You Save May Be Your Own".) It dovetails beautifully with many of your current posts on non-violence. Oh, and on suffering, too.

    Thank you!!

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  3. Oh dear folks, a belated response--thank you, Tom and Mary Beth. I love the idea of learning to pray contemplatively in response to the news of the day, of embracing, as we must and as we LONG TO, the soldier, the military chaplain, the peace activist in solitary confinement, the families of soldiers, the people who treat PTSD, the whole spectrum of humanity, for we have that whole spectrum inside each of us....I continue to puzzle these complicated, paradoxical things through...oh, and Tom, I loved the Fr. Waldron video! Wishing you both a happy, happy summer...

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