Monday, May 21, 2007
One of the hardest assignments you can ever cover for a newspaper is grief. The emotional outpouring over the loss of a family member or friend is hard to witness and even more difficult to photograph.
I was assigned to photograph the funeral for Marine Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II. Palmer was the first serviceman from Manteca to die in the Iraq war.
I have covered the stories of the Tracy soldiers and Marines that have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Six have died and I remember the various photos that have run in the paper. Parents watching the news of their sons death, a wife grieving over the loss of her husband, a mother clutching the flag that covered her son’s coffin. I sometimes struggle to remember all their names but I always remember the pictures.
Maybe I am just getting numb to the war or God forgive me, I am getting accustomed to the losses we suffer. The funeral of Cpl. Palmer was a sad event but it didn’t bother me as much as some of the other memorials I have covered in the past.
Back at the office I looked over the program they were handing out at the funeral. On the back was a copy of the handwritten letter Palmer wrote as he asked to reenlist in the Marine Corps. Sometimes it is just too much too bear.