It is not glossy or stage-lit, like the ones we see where the people look like they were posed by an unseen director. The photographer here did not edit or add drama to the photo in post-production. This is not the New York Times after all.
We see instead just the clean formation of assembled troops. We do not even see the soldiers’ faces. And there is something emotionally gripping with their anonymity, an anonymity that symbolizes and recalls sacrifice. I imagine the faces are stoic, defiant, tough. Perhaps there were a few young men whose eyes welled with bitter tears for fallen comrades.
They are after all saluting the flag. Ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo. And what a flag it is in this photo. This is not a ceremonial parade flag–clean, large, fluttering from a tall metal flagpole. You know those flags that look good in glossy pictures. This flag looks almost makeshift, small and hanging from what looks like a bamboo pole. It is a battlefield flag.
The next time we meet a soldier, we should thank him for his service to the country.
Charles Englund June 2017