November 18, 2011

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Emotions

This week my husband emailed me a picture of himself and the men he works with. Pictures like these are precious. Not only to the families of the men, but pictures like these are a part of our nation's history. Our  soldiers are making history. So often we see in history books, photographs of men who've served in wars long gone. We look into the eyes of these historical people in old, blurry, black and white photographs and we wonder about their lives. Did they have wives? Children? And I wonder, 40, 60,100 years from now, will there be teachers and children looking at photographs of my husband and his men while studying this war?

The receipt of this particular photograph induced a picture finding frenzy on my behalf. I searched for hours for old photographs of me, of my husband, of our friends from units past. I found pictures of men we knew. Men we know. Their families. Men who've since died. Men who've since been injured. Lost limbs, lost their families, lost their minds. . .

So many emotions came from reviewing old photographs of the last decade of our lives. I was not only reviewing our personal history, but the history of our country. A history that has been repeated every generation since our founding fathers. And then looking at the picture my husband sent of himself, of his men, I couldn't help but let the wave of emotions wash over me.

First there is pride. I am so proud of my husband and life I lead along side him. I am so proud of all he's accomplished, I'm proud of his men. I'm proud of their families. The life of a combat soldier and his family is not an easy one by any means. The second is fear. I can't help but worry that not all of these men will come home to their families the next time it's their turn to serve in combat. The third is sadness. I am so very, very sad, anguished in fact, because I know how bad it feels to lose someone you love so dearly before they are old and have lived the long life they deserved. After all, that's how it is supposed to be. I look at the photograph, into the faces of these smart, brave, and accomplished men, and my heart aches with worry and fear. And there is so, so much more. But I don't have the capacity. I can't. I just can't. . .

Yet I know that despite what the future holds I will cherish this picture always. Not only is it a part of our nation's history, it is a part of my husband's life. A part of my life. A part of my children's lives. What is going to happen will happen and I have no control over that. So all I can do now is look at that photograph and pray.


  1. Growing up, I always loved looking at my grandfather's old war pictures. Now that I will soon be an Army wife, I find it very important to keep a lot of pictures of these days in hopes that one day our children and grandchildren will want to look at them and ask about our history.

  2. Thanks Cate! I do the same! I think it's so important to continue to pass along these things to future generations. I save everything from pictures to letters, all of it is in a special place.

  3. Beautiful. Just Beautiful.

    C loves the song (and I can't think of the name), a country song, "you should've seen it in color" is the big line. Talking about old war pictures. It wasn't until he talked about that song that it started to get to me.

    I think all the time about what this war will be in the textbooks and lessons of the future. How much or how little space this story will or will not take up. Which side will tell it. I think all the time about how the generations beyond will learn about this. What pictures they will see. What images they will be given.

    All the time.

    Very well said, Stephanie. So very well said.