I’m hardly a combat photographer but I’ve always like this particular photograph taken in nineteen fifties Korea. I don’t think we’re in any real danger and the situation probably looks more daunting than it actually is. The North Korean military would shell us on occasion. I think they simply wanted us to know they were still there. Of course, they remained there for several decades. And, they’re still there today even though many years have passed since the conflict once known as a, “police action” took place. I imagine you remember the old joke, right? If this was a police action why didn’t they simply send the cops?
Service in the military was quite different back in the fifties. Back then, young men were expected to serve their country and we had a draft to remind us of that. Of course, well-heeled and politically connected fat cats usually found a way to avoid service for their kids. Then again, what else is new? Isn’t it amazing how those who have benefited the most from America’s freedom and opportunity are the ones most reluctant to serve? For the most part our units were made up of a cross section of America. We had upper crust types from Boston and former street gang members from Los Angeles. We were a mix of America and our troops were as diverse as you could imagine. We were White and Black. Asian, Middle Eastern and Latino. We were straight and gay and no one gave it a second thought. When you’re dealing with life and death there’s no time to engage in the foolishness of civilian society where all most people think about is their next trip to the mall.
I put in my time like most young men and women and returned to Walt’s magic factory where I was lucky enough to pick up where I left off. I still despise warfare and America’s pathetic fascination with firearms. Since I put down my trusty M-1 shoulder weapon and my 45 automatic pistol I’ve never touched a weapon since. Real soldiers don’t care for weapons and these instruments of death are only celebrated by wanna-be Rambos and those with a need to compensate for other… shortcomings.
I don’t need any thanks for Veterans Day because I did nothing more than any other American man or woman who served. Our Commander in Chief was none other than President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and he was a man who saw the horrors of the Second World War and America’s obligation to fight against the Axis Powers. On the other hand, our former President also warned us about the Military Industrial Complex and his prophetic words still echo after all these years.