While at the Newseum today, I saw some incredible and extraordinarily powerful photographs and memorials. One of the photos that stuck with me the most was “The Soiling of Old Glory” by Stanley Forman. It depicts a white man about to attack a black man with the American flag. The symbolism of the photo was incredible. It was taken in 1976, which was 11 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965, and published in the Boston Herald. The photo shows how many people thought that denying people civil rights was the American thing to do, and the title of the photo shows that the people against civil rights were really “soiling” all the values the American flag stands for.
Being able to see things like Daniel Pearl’s laptop, a bullet hole-ridden truck from Sarajevo, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and newspaper headlines from all over the world after 9/11 made me realize how important journalism really is. Journalism (especially photography) helps us bridge the gap between what is actually happening in our world and what we think we know. To see the lengths to which journalists have gone to give us stories that we otherwise would not have heard was an almost indescribable experience.
The memorials serve as a reminder of what people have done and sacrificed. It would be impossible to forget the physical reminders of those brave journalists such as Daniel Pearl or the Time Magazine reporters who braved Sarajevo, and equally as impossible to ignore the sacrifices the people in the photos such as “The Soiling of Old Glory” made for us to have the freedoms we have today.