I know virtually nothing about the context of the photo, other than that it was taken by the screen name ‘Librarian 1975’ and that the art appeared on the wall of an old Exxon Station in Hainesport, New Jersey.
The words almost certainly referred to a father returning home from War, most likely the War in Iraq.
There’s nothing really to be said for the actual artwork. I’m no art critic, but the words were clearly spray painted, and in all honesty I think the kid could look a bit more stricken and/or torn.
There is something to be said, however, for the art’s message and the important reminder it conveys.
After seeing this image, it suddenly hit me that the War in Iraq went on for nearly NINE years. That’s longer than the Civil War and nearly as long as both World Wars combined. At the official ending of the war in mid-December 2011, CBS News reported that 4,500 Americans had died and 32,000 more were wounded over the course of the war. Additionally, more than 100,000 Iraqis were killed and approximately $800 billion was expended. Funny how all those “Two U.S. soldiers were killed today in a bombing near Baghdad” and “Twelve Iraqis died today in a shooting…” reports added up.
Even more peculiar: when the War began in 2003, everybody knew about it. All of America followed the news reports, and a majority of U.S. citizens supported Bush’s decision at the time. But as time progressed, the war became a kind of subliminal advertising—sure, we heard about it, and it was reported on, but on the whole, I think a lot of people grew numb to it…even to the point of forgetting it was happening. The War, to the average citizen, became quite commonplace.
This message reminds us that while the War was almost tiresome, even mundane, to a lot of people, it intoxicated and consumed the minds of others. And that really, it’s a shame when we forget that.