The Ultimate Price: The Human Dimensions of War

Tim HetheringtonToday we receive the news that Oscar-nominated filmmaker and photographer Tim Hetherington, and Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer Chris Hondros  were killed when hit by mortar fire in the city of Misrata, Libya. We hear of the passion they had for their work. We also reflect on their efforts to connect us with the experiences of soldiers and of those who live in conflict zones.

chris hondrosYet, at this moment, nothing brings home the profound sense of sadness and loss of war more than the photos of these young men. Certainly, they knew of the risks they faced. However, any such concerns were outweighed by the need to tell a story. When Hetherington was interviewed about his documentary “Restrepo,” he commented about his desire to give families a voice. This included the Afghan citizens caught up in the war, as well as the soldiers and their families on the other side of the world. It was important to him that we were reminded of the human dimensions of conflict and violence. He named his film after Juan Restrepo, a Colombian born US soldier who died on an Afghan mountainside. This was his tribute to him. This was his way of keeping the human face on the tragedy of war.

In death, these men now lend their own faces to the toll of conflict. In doing so, they are forever joined in spirit with those whose stories they tried to tell. Rather poignantly, it became their story as well. The human dimension of war also extends to those who risk their lives so that we might see its cost. Our greatest tribute to these men is to steady our gaze and to keep our eyes affixed.

by William Repicci

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