Photographers Capture 'A Day in the Life of the United States Armed Forces'
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., May 13, 2003 Army Gen. Tommy Franks was so touched by the images, he spoke in short, meditative sentences, hesitating between each heartfelt thought.
"You see the pride there," he said, looking at a colorful picture of troops training.
"That's a face with an iron will," Franks said with a prideful smile at a portrait of a soldier in combat gear.
A photo of new Air Force Academy cadets at lunchtime rituals prompted the general's comment: "You think about the days and nights spent thinking about it and studying it, wanting to get it right."
Thumbing through the large 256-page volume, "A Day in the Life of the United States Armed Forces," clearly moved the four-star commander.
Franks, who led coalition forces during the war in Iraq, then reflected on the real-life faces of troops he saw recently in Basra, Najaf, Nasiriyah, Baghdad and other parts of Iraq: "It's going to take all of them years, maybe the rest of their lives, to think back about where they've been and what they did as part of this time in American history."
He said just as the faces of troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom are unforgettable, the pictures in "A Day in the Life of the United States Armed Forces," are equally thought-provoking.
"The people in it (the book) are impressive," said Franks in a recent interview at the Women's Memorial. Franks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and other officials were at the memorial May 8 to view the stunning exhibits of photographs from the book.
Also present were Jane Friedman, chief executive officer of Harper Collins Publishers, the book's two producers and 34 of the 125 military and civilian photographers who shot more than 250,000 pictures during a 24-hour period on Oct. 22, 2002. A team of editors sifted through the thousands of photographs to pick 300 for the book, which hit bookstores May 13.
"When you go to a movie and enjoy it, you can't take the movie home and put it on a coffee table," Franks noted. "But you can take a piece of work like this, especially if you really treasure experiences and associations in the military, and put it on the coffee table. And every time you sit down to watch television, you pick up that book and look at the troops.
"If you ask anyone about the characteristics of America's military, what comes to mind?" the general asked.
Just as insightfully, he answered: "You'll think about the technology. But you also think about the human face on that Marine, soldier, airman, sailor or Coast Guardsman, as you saw in Operation Iraqi Freedom. So it's wonderful to see what these wonderful men and women look like on an average day as they're doing their jobs. I think it's a meaningful piece of artwork."
Thinking back about the Army he joined 30 years ago, Franks said, "The service I grew up in didn't look like the service represented in this book.
"And it didn't look like those young people I was with on Capitol Hill today. They're truly the best." He and Rumsfeld had testified before Congress earlier that day. Franks was referring to several U.S. service members from Iraq with him and Rumsfeld at the House briefing "to get the recognition they deserve."
Americans recognize the value of freedom and that liberty is a treasure, he said. America's military works hard to guarantee those freedoms and liberties for the next 200 years of American history, the general added.
"This is a positive time for the military," Franks said.
Friedman told the large crowd at the memorial that, "The logistics of producing this monumental work were coordinated and executed with a precision and proficiency that exemplified our military. It was a major operation handled flawlessly by a most professional team. With that in mind, we believe it's a fitting tribute to its subject."
She said she and her Harper Collins staff immediately recognized how important "A Day in the Life of the United States Armed Forces" would be for so many in this country.
"It shares the message of bravery, dedication, patriotism, honor and sacrifice that's lived out each day by the men and women in our armed forces," said Friedman. "The book illustrates how significant the United States armed forces are in our lives today and every day. It will touch people across the country, whether they be in the military, family, friends or neighbors of someone in the military, or simply citizens of our great country."
Friedman predicted that "A Day in the Life of the United States Armed Forces" would be treasured by Americans in all walks of life that cherish the freedoms represented in its pages.
Lou Korman, co-founder and chairman of EpiCom Media, walked into Friedman's office a few months before the October worldwide photo session to show her samples of the types of photographs he wanted to use in the book. "And I said, I think this is fabulous," Friedman said.
"I thought, 'This has an emotional content that's going to be so important.' We'd all gotten through 9-11 and were all shocked and shattered. In New York, the military doesn't have that same kind of positioning as it does around the country and the world.
"We didn't know another war was coming," she noted. "We just thought that a celebration of the military was absolutely what was needed today. And then we knew that this team that had been assembled would produce some of the most glorious photographs of all times. And that's exactly what happened."
The Defense Department's project officer, Navy Lt. Andy Liggett, said, "It was a wonderful experience to bring 125 different public affairs officers from all services, including the Coast Guard, into this project. The enthusiasm was overwhelming and the support we got was fantastic."
The project started out with 100 civilian photographers, "but the producers of the book came across a number of military photographers whose work they thought was outstanding," Liggett said.
"So they came up with the idea that 25 of the military photographers would be treated exactly as the civilian photographers. And they were flown around the world to various locations to shoot different military bases."
The project was then opened up to any military photographer who wanted to submit photos for consideration, the lieutenant noted.
"A number of those photographers' work is included in the book," Liggett said.
"The producers had some themes they wanted to concentrate on and they brought them to DoD," he said. "We gave them some ideas that they hadn't thought about. It was a real team effort."
Liggett pointed out that DoD doesn't benefit financially from the sale of the book. "But we believe that the book will increase awareness of the men and women in uniform and the sacrifices they make for their country on an everyday basis," he said.