Excrutiating (Also, Haunting)

Damon Winter’s photograph on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times. The scene captured— soldier tearfully embraces family before shipping off to war— isn’t unfamiliar. Still, this scene —“Sgt. Brian Keith with his wife, Sara, and their son, Stephen, 6 months, just before Sergeant Keith deployed to Afghanistan with other troops from Fort Drum, N.Y.”— haunts.

As do moments in the accompanying article by James Dao, the first in a series “chronicling the yearlong deployment of the First Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, based in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan…the battalion’s part in the surge in northern Afghanistan and the impact of war on individual soldiers and their families back home.” Moments like:

Sgt. Tamara Sullivan…called her children in North Carolina, ages 3 and 1, and told them she would soon be going to work in a place called Afghanistan. For a year. She reminded her husband to send her their artwork…

“I asked for him to mail me those pictures, those little sloppy ones,” she said. “I want to see what my children’s hands touched, because I won’t be able to touch them.”

The Times’s “A Year at War” project comes with video, too.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.