En route to Afghanistan. I wish I could run this photo larger (left click to enlarge it slightly). It’s heart-breaking. Those tight rows of American soldiers in full gear, dwarfed by the cathedral-like ceiling of the plane. The accompanying report said that some in this battalion are fresh out of basic training, others starting their fifth combat tour in nine years. I stared at it for a long while, trying to pick out a particular face, to give individual identity to at least a few of these young men and women. But I couldn’t even tell who was male and who female. All identity is gone. What remains is the tension — the awareness in their bodies that at least some of them are flying toward their death. That, and the overwhelming sense of waste.
(Photo: Damon Winter, New York Times.)