Photos That Have Impacted My Life

t75-155_oklahoma-city_firemandead-baby_1995

Source: Creighton University

This is an image of Oklahoma City firefighter Chris Fields holding 1-year old Baylee Almon, who died a short time later at a nearby hospital as a result of her injuries from the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, which killed 168 other people, including 18 other children.

This image impacts me because of the look of despair on the face of Chris Fields, who despite his best efforts, seems to already know that this young victim’s prognosis is grim, which gives me a truly haunting and sinking feeling inside. This picture also affects me because I have had many family members and family friends who have served as firefighters over the years, including my father. This photo paints a portrait of one of the most emotionally draining moments a firefighter can experience in their career: recovering victims who are beyond saving or in even worse cases, already gone.

The other main component of this photograph that affects me is the condition of the young victim, 1-year old Baylee Almon. Few things in life are more tragic than the death of a child, especially when it is an infant or a toddler. Even though children do end up dying every now and then from various causes, the manner in which little Baylee died is beyond atrocious. Her death was not the result of a disease, congenital defect, sudden infant death syndrome or even an accident. Almon was the victim of a terrorist bombing that tore through the day care she was being supervised at. When a child goes to day care, parents should never have to fear that any sort of bodily harm, let harm inflicted by a massive intentional explosion, will be brought upon their child. A tiny child such as Baylee, who was still learning a great deal of things about how the world works and did nothing to deserve being murdered, should not be subject to being mortally wounded in a cowardly act carried out by members of a crazed right-wing, Calvinist Christian militia group retaliating against two large raids conducted by federal authorities that killed a number of dangerous and irrational cult members that were deemed a threat to society. The grotesque condition of little Baylee Almon drives home even further the magnitude of the atrocity committed by a pair of unstable Christian extremists. The elements of this photo stress that one should use every chance they get to spend time with those they love and the world of firefighting is one that involves a great deal of loss and devastation on a somewhat typical basis.

zumanewtownwide

Source: Mother Jones

This is a photograph of a group of children evacuating Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012, where 20 students and six teachers were fatally shot by 20-year old Adam Lanza, who had also murdered his mother before arriving at the school and killed himself once he had finished shooting the victims at the school.

The first part of this image that really gets to me is the line of children holding on to each other as the evacuate from the school. In a thoughtless and gruesome act such as a massive shooting, especially at a location like an elementary school, people in the vicinity of the shooting try to stick together to try and keep each other safe and perhaps try to even overpower the perpetrator responsible for the massacre by having strength in numbers. The story that this particular image is attempting to relay is that in a time of crisis, everybody must come together and do their best to try and wether the storm, no matter how drastic the circumstances may be.

The other major element about this image that haunts me is what might have been going through these children’s heads after likely hearing the unmistakable sounds of bullets being fired along with the blood-curdling screams of their peers and teachers both before and after the rounds were fired. Children this young should never have to be forced to deal with such an awful experience like being the witnesses to a massive murder, especially in a location where they are supposed to feel safe and learn about the facts of life every weekday. Another troubling aspect of this image is thinking about what unsettling information these children had to hear about once the scene was designated as being secure by the authorities who responded to the massacre. It is very heartbreaking to think of the concept that some of these children having to learn that one of their siblings, friends or teachers, who they may have talked to just days or even hours before the tragedy, would never be coming back. As I mentioned in the first photo, it is always heart-wrenching to hear about the premature death of somebody, especially when the one who has passed away is a child. The manner in which the students and teachers were slaughtered by a deranged and unsympathetic young man in itself is a pill that is hard to swallow. At the same time, it is even more soul crushing to imagine the life-shattering news of a loved one being killed in a massive shooting being delivered to the victim’s parents, siblings, extended family, neighbors and friends, who cannot even begin to fathom why such a young and promising life had to be put to a sudden and cruel halt. In conclusion, children should never be subject to witnessing cold and calculated executions on a large scale, let alone becoming the victims of such an event and should also never fear for their lives while going to a place that is essential to their growth as a human being.

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