Tuesday, May 10, 2011

War brings pride, victory, loss, humiliation, and most of all destruction. One of the most obvious kinds of destruction is the terrain, but there is also the destruction of a society, and destruction of families. No one can ever fully recover from the different forms of destruction war causes. War tends to leave scars, some more painful than others. The following photos and or paintings have preserved some wounds from World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Spanish Civil War and the mass destruction these wars caused.
David Kennerly, Untitled, 1971

This now barren mountain used to be lush and green from the abundance of trees. Below the treetops, life is teeming, and nature goes about its business. Then a plane zooms over head. Its sole purpose for that day is to drop rainbow herbicides over the leafy, green forest and destroy it. The herbicide rains down from the belly of the plane. The vegetation, unable to escape its doom, accepts the poison dutifully. The forest is destroyed. The photo above shows the after math of rainbow herbicides. This is an example of one of the different forms of destruction caused by war: destruction of nature.

During the Vietnam War, the US used herbicides, known as “Rainbow Herbicides.” Rainbow Herbicides included Agents Orange, pink, green, purple, blue, and white, and were used to kill vegetation where the enemy could potentially be hiding (Chemical Warfare). Not only were these herbicides deadly to plants, but they also were harmful to humans. One of many ailments caused by the herbicides includes lung cancer (Chemical Warfare). Though this technique may have given the US an advantage, it left a path of destruction, scarring nature and the people of Vietnam.
Salvador Dali, Soft Construction with Boiled Beans, 1936

It’s 1936 and Spain is in an uproar. People are being divided and brothers are turned against each other due to political and social issues. The people, such as the agricultural laborers, of Spain want to reform Spanish society and become a republic while others , like the Catholic Church, landowners, and part of the military had no desire to reform Spain (Spanish Civil War). Nerves are on edge; everyone is at each other’s throats. Finally, chaos ensues, and all tensions break loose. A country divided is all that Spain is now and people are thirsty for blood. War is the only option to resolve this ever growing separation of the Spanish people. War can tear society apart and destroy how it used to be.

The painting above has direct connections to the Spanish Civil War and the division of society during that time. It depicts what appear to be several different body parts fighting against each other. The body is split and is literally fighting against itself. The body can be a symbol for the Spanish society and how it had become divided due to political issues. The body in general is ugly and decrepit looking giving the illusion that society is also ugly. Some body parts are no longer attached to any other body part suggesting that the Spanish society is falling apart. War has multiple forms of destruction, but one way is the destruction and division of society and family.
George Stock, American Casualties at Buna Beach, 1943
It’s February 1943, World War II. Hundreds of American soldiers have been loaded onto landing crafts. Today, they are going to invade Buna Beach, New Guinea. They slowly make their way to the shore line wondering if they were going to make it through one more battle. Many long for home, for their families and lovers. The soldiers try to remember their loved ones’ faces and say to themselves “I will make it home to see you again, don’t worry. I’m going to be home soon.” Some GI’s sit in silence with nerves on edge. They know that people are going to die today. They pray that it’s not them. The landing crafts make it to shore and the soldiers are let loose into enemy fire. One soldier is hit. He sinks to the sandy ground with blood gushing from his wound. He watches his comrades rush past him. His vision is blurring, his breath becoming shorter. He knows it’s the end and thinks of his family. He sees there little faces and whispers, “Don’t worry. I’m going to be home soon, I’m going to be home soon.”  The world fades away with the waves ebbing and flowing.

 In the photo above three GI bodies are on the shore of Buna Beach, New Guinea with an abandoned landing craft in the background. This photo, taken by LIFE photographer George Stick, is one of the first images released to the public with war casualties depicted. It was taken in February, but was not released until September because it needed to be approved by the government censors (LIFE). This photo represents the destruction of life War causes. These soldiers belonged to families earning for them to come home safely, but instead received word that their son, husband, or father had just died in battle. War brings the destruction of life and families as is represented by the photo above. 

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