On Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2009, I covered the funeral for U.S. Army 1st Lt. David Timothy Wright II who was killed Sept. 14th by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He was only 26 years old.
Unfortunately, I have had to cover many of these military funerals over the last few years, and over time I have developed a love/hate relationship with covering them. I hate to see another young military person passing away before their time, and the pain their family goes through. On the other hand I want to be there to cover these funerals, and capture these emotional moments to document, pay tribute to these fallen heros, and show our readers who this person was and what sacrifice this person and family paid for our country and each and every citizen of the United States.
Sometimes there is a big misconception that I, being part of the media, am there to exploit the situation. I can say for sure that the photographers I know and for myself, this is the furthest thing from the truth. When I am photographing a funeral, I have had many reactions to my presence. I am met with some that are very upset, and can not believe that I am there doing ‘this’ to the family. Others are of complete gratitude that I am there to remember the one that has fallen. The latter is always the reason that I am there. I never attend a funeral without the family’s permission, and in doing so I comply to the fullest extent to the family’s wishes. Each family is different, some have given almost full access, and others very limited to none at all. These request are absolutely fine with me, because these difficult situations are about the families not about me, it is a privilege for me to be there.
In doing my job I want to be able to do the best I can to pay tribute, and not let them be forgotten for what they have done for all of us. I admit it is not easy for me though. I am a husband and a father, and it is hard for me to see the pain these families go through. I see these difficult situations, and I put myself in their shoes at every funeral I attend. I can not begin to comprehend the pain they are going through. It is an emotional roller coaster for me, because I do get emotionally involved, I have a job to do and it never gets easier. I am not afraid to say that I have had to take pictures through many tears that roll down my cheeks. All in all, I am always honored to be there, and always very sorry for the family’s loss.
I do want to say thanks to all the families for allowing me and my coworkers to be in attendance, and to say thank you to those that have fallen and to those that continue to serve on their missions. I wish you all God Speed.
Please take the time to view the slideshow from the funeral of U.S. Army 1st Lt. David Timothy Wright