Thursday, November 18, 2010

Photo of the Day: Medal of Honor

Sergeant Giunta receives the Medal of Honor. Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP
This photo, which I saw in yesterday's New York Daily News, shows Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta receiving the Medal of Honor from President Obama on November 16. Giunta became the first living soldier since the Vietnam War to receive the medal (seven soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have received the medal postumously) for action in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, during which he saved the lives of two friends. But that isn't the whole story. Pictures invite us to study emotion--that's the information they deliver as no other medium can, and it's the basis of their power. In this picture, by J. Scott Applewhite for AP, Giunta appears...let's say solemn, and the reason can be found in this video clip, which comes from photographer Tim Hetherington and writer Sebastian Junger, who made the documentary Restrepo, about a company of U.S soldiers in Afghanistan.  Giunta was one of those soldiers, and in the clip he tells the story behind his medal. (Hetherington also has a short interview with Giunta in the December issue of Vanity Fair.) If this photo doesn't tell the facts of the story, it tells the meaning. It's all there on Sergeant Giunta's face.

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