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Posts Tagged ‘Mawson’s Will’

I came across a photo recently and it really pulled me in immediately with an almost mystical appeal.  It’s an image of an iceberg taken under a midnight sun by during one of the great Antarctic expeditions of  the early part of the 20th century.  The photographer was Frank Hurley and doing a quick search revealed an amazing life of a man from Australia who documented with his camera some of the most storied explorations into Antarctica and both World Wars.  This being Memorial Day, I thought I’d share a couple of his WW I photos that mix artistry and the  hard reality of the battlefield.

The photo above shows the newest forms of warfare at the time, the biplanes,  swooping over soldiers coming out of the trenches.  I can only imagine the  element of terror that the plane hovering menacingly above must have added to the reeling minds of those soldiers trapped in that deadly cacaphony.

The second shows the battlefield under an icredible sky with light filtering from behind a dark cloud, casting an eerie radiance down on the trenches and bodies that gives it an end-of-the -world feel, which for many of the combatants, it was just that.  It makes me appreciate how easy and soft my own life is, how I have been spared the horrors of war.  It puts context behind the imagery of the rows of flags fluttering in blue skies that we often associate with Memorial Day and makes the words Lest We Forget have reall meaning.

Have a great holiday and try to remember what is behind the celebration.  If only for a moment, try to give it a bit of the reverence for which it stands.

Here is the photo of the iceberg [ further inspection reveals that it is not an iceberg but  land] that brought me to Mr. Hurley’s work.  It was taken during the Mawson Expedition which is the subject of a great book, Mawson’s Will, that tells an incredible story of survival of explorers trapped for two winters in the harshness of Antarctica.   I read it many years ago and highly recommend it.

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