Contrasting Photos: A Soldier's Home Coming Essay

Contrasting Photos: A Soldier's Home Coming Essay

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War has always been inevitable throughout the history of the world. The outcomes can differ greatly; it’s usually either a win or a loss. Wins or losses are just definite statements, but photos can represent these statements. Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “V-J Day in Times Square” shows an American sailor kissing a young woman right in the middle of Times Square, despite their surroundings. This iconic photo was taken after the U.S. declared victory over Japan in World War II, and was published in Life magazine a week later. John Gap’s (III) photo shows a young girl being consoled at a soldier’s funeral in a local high school gymnasium, later to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. This humble photo was taken during the war still raging in Afghanistan, showing that these types of losses happen quite often, as there are no iconic photos for Afghanistan compared to the photo shot after the win over World War II. Unlike its counterpart, this photo was published only at a local level on a website. Both these photos show a soldier being dismissed to go home from war. Although the two photos share that common factor, the scenario in which the soldier comes home differs greatly. Through these photos, Albert Eisenstaedt and John Gaps III help evoke pathos and give the observer a sense of the pride and the devastation felt of a home coming from war using photographic elements such as framing, focus, and angles.
Eisenstaedt’s photo reflects the elation that U.S. citizens felt after President Truman declared that World War II was over and they had won victory over Japan. The black and white coloration of the photo shows that this is an older, yet classic photo. Set in the heart of Times Square, this photo captivates the observer and captures a...


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...e has lost. Set in the gymnasium of IKM-Manning High School, this funeral accurately portrays the devastation felt when a loved one has perished in war and is returned in a casket. This photo focuses on the home coming of a soldier, but unlike “V-J Day in Times Square”, it’s shown in a negative way. The vivid colors of the U.S. flag’s stripes as well as the blue from the VFW flag are bold against the seemingly monochrome photo. Red, white, and blue are distinct in this photo, representing the Americanism and freedom that this soldier has brought. The balance of colors is split: bold colors of freedom on one side, and black of the garments of mourners on the other. Although there is freedom, there was a price to be paid; a life. People all over the country lose family and friends to the perils of war. Unfortunately for this soldier, he came home resting in peace.



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