War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

hero shots

I remember at garrison last Christmas seeing soldiers line up for Company photos. they hated it. just as they hate the individual photos taken before deployment. their “hero” shots of them dressed in their new tan uniforms, ready for the desert.

they hate their hero shots because those are the photos used by newspapers when soldiers are killed. they don’t smile for them. they are superstitious about them. I don’t blame the soldiers. there’s something eery when you know the photo that’s being taken might someday be pasted in newspapers across the country announcing you’re dead.

I write about this today because I looked at my first newspaper in over 10 days. page A4, Private Alexandre Peloquin, 3rd Battalion Royale 22 Régiment, killed in Panjwaii district. IED. our 119th.

and I look at him and remember the boys of LAV 21A with whom I spent some days last October at Wainwright as they prepared for Afghanistan. the boys of the 3rd Battalion Royal 22e Régiment who this moment are patrolling the desert, the villages. and I remember the hours canned with them inside their LAV, them chain-smoking, joking, cat-napping, telling me about their lives, generally putting up with me because their Sgt. told them they had to. I remember them covering me with blankets when I was shivering out in the leaguer. I remember telling them a “bedtime” story en français and how much it made them laugh (my rusty French and the fact that no one had told them a bedtime story for maybe 15 years). I remember looking at them as they slept and at how young they were, their eyelashes still so soft, their skin unworried by too much life. I wonder now what those eyes have seen.

and after over 18 months with soldiers, hearing them tell of their lives, their hopes, their fears, their pride, and even their bitterness sometimes, I no longer look at their photos in the newspapers as just those of soldiers. I see someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s beloved.


1 Comment (Closed)

Alex VanderWoude

May the day never come when you know the face in the newspaper. Now that I have children of my own I have an inkling of what that must be like.

Jun 10 2009 · 10:30

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled hero shots. It was posted here on June 09, 2009.

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