Monday, April 16, 2012

Looking Forward to a Soldier's Homecoming

In an effort to be as objective as possible, photojournalists do their best to be the proverbial flies on the wall and dispassionate observers when covering news events.
We try not to be noticed so not to encourage participants of a news event play for camera and to remain emotionally detached to ensure our photographs capture a fair representation of what transpires.
At least in a perfect world, that's what we aspire to.
But sometime in the next several weeks, I likely will be covering an event where I will be an enthusiastic participant and unabashedly wearing my emotions on my sleeve.
For the last 12 months, about 2,300 soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's Red Bulls have been serving in Kuwait, providing support as the U.S. military forces withdraw from Iraq.
The first group of Red Bulls returned to Minnesota this past weekend and the remainder will be coming home sometime in the next several weeks.
Among them will be my daughter's husband, Sgt. Nathan Fenske, a member of the New Ulm-based 125th Field Artillery and Headquarters Battery.
This is his second deployment with the unit.
His first was an extended 22-month period in Iraq when the situation was much less secure in that region.
They returned to New Ulm from that duty in July, 2007, an event I had the opportunity to cover.
Even though I really had no emotional ties to any of the returning soldiers _ my daughter, Amanda and Nate didn't meet one another until 2009 and married late in 2010 _ it was difficult not to get caught up in the excitement and unbridled joy of families reuniting with their returning soldiers.
Nevertheless, my job was to shoot photographs and it wasn't too tough to find some very touching images.
One of them, shown here, instantly became one of my favorites.
Sometime in the next several weeks, my son-in-law and his unit will be coming home.
And as far as this journalist being an objective, dispassionate observer this time around, all bets are off.
To view a photo gallery of the Red Bulls returning in July, 2007, go here.

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