A Sad Photograph from Years Ago

Italian Soldiers Killed Near Cividale, Italy, 1917.

Nothing here really but a quick post about a photograph that really has overwhelmed me.  It is a photograph of Italian soldiers killed during World War I.  It isn’t a particularly impressive photo, if you’re looking for qualities of composition objectively; but the in a subjective manner, the photo is tragic.

What strikes me most is how plainly the photograph captures life interrupted and ended.  Unfortunately we are all too familiar with photos of dead soldiers, but in this picture we see strewn in the mud along side lifeless bodies simple things like a note paper, blankets, and a guitar.

It is the guitar that gets me.  In fact, to my eye, it is the most prominent feature in the photograph.  You can’t miss it.  And that guitar creates a narrative for the picture that I find pitifully sad.

Imagine this group of young men camped in the hills near Cividale, Italy, reading and writing letters, huddled in their blankets, as one of their group played the guitar.  There’s a distinct innocence defined by that guitar.  It connotes a sort of youthful naiveté that troubles me.  This war — the First World War — was embraced with a great deal of naiveté, but the most innocent — the most understandably innocent — suffered the most.

We still make that mistake today, don’t we?  It seems to me that a lot of the world’s troubles and conflicts are efforts to sort out the problems and ambitions of old men and women.


3 thoughts on “A Sad Photograph from Years Ago

  1. V. Lyn

    A Powerful statement an observation. I served in the Army for six years following in my fathers foot steps who retired from the Army. I always thought if people over 50 were the only ones who can serve in the military there would be far few wars…. Not because they would be any more intelligent or less avarice or power hungry but because they would have little stomach for the cavalier manner in which they seem to regard life loss especially when it is not their own. Perhaps it should be that only congress and their children can fight in wars and that for a person to become Potus he has had to have served in the military.
    And now we have Israel trying tyo force us into war with Iran…trying to manipulate the esculation of agression with Iran…and we call them friends… an ally… What is it exactly that Israel offers America…other than we have a major vocal Jewish/Israeli constituency here in America who clamor for war with Iran even louder than those who live in Israel… With friends like that who needs enemies. Before America lets Israel force us into a war with iran based on an exotential threat with Iran maybe America needs to take a look at that photograph you posted.


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