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Reminder of war

Photographing soldiers as they trained for deployment made for a solemn assignment.

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Mary Knox Merrill - staff

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On assignment at Fort Campbell, Ky., I photographed soldiers who were training before their deployment to Iraq. They were learning how to conduct personnel and vehicle searches to find weapons and hidden bombs. It was an overcast day, and I wanted to use the low light to convey what I saw as their ominous futures.

I kneeled down on the ground to focus on a gun, letting the shallow exposure blur the figures in the background. I exposed for the sky to silhouette the soldiers. The resulting image speaks more to the mood of the day as I felt it than to a replication of the soldiers' actions.

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War may be in the daily news headlines, but if we're honest with ourselves, most days many of us choose not to think about it. Unless family or friends are in the armed services, we go about the daily grind without much thought to what is happening overseas. But there are moments, such as this, that remind us of the grave realities of war.