Sunday, July 30, 2017

War Stories

When I was searching for images for Saturday's post 'Widow's Walk', i was mostly looking for vintage images sailors and soldiers from World War II. I have searched and posted vintage military images before, but usually was most drawn to the black and white shots. I was struck however this time around by some of the color images from the Korean war in the 50's, the Vietnam War in the 60's and early 70's.

As recent as these two wars actually were, they weren't given a lot of space in the history book, at least not when I was in high school in the early 90's. Maybe they were too recent, or maybe although we still honour our solders, we know better than to honour our wars, especially the wars since World War II. The first two world wars seemed to have purpose, it is harder to find purpose in most of the last few wars, especially looking back.

Most of these images come from those two wars, along with many from the Gulf War in the early 90's. This war I remember, I was young, and to be honest, remember mostly being angry at all the coverage on television wrecking my TV viewing. Given FH is devoted to the male form, it did not go unnoticed, the changes in men, especially the changes in body shapes and sizes in our more recent wars.

Most of the soldiers in World War II had crew cuts. In the latter wars, it was a mix of crew cuts and shaved heads, with shaved heads taking over in recent years. The soldiers in World War II clearly did not eat as well, and many looked underweight and undernourished. You rarely saw a guy with pounds to spare in vintage images from the time. Partly it may have been location, and ability to easily, and quickly transport food to war zones.

I think in part it was also priorities, and of course the draft. In the Gulf War, solders volunteered. With earlier Wars, many were drafted, and had little to no say on having their basic needs met. So many images of naked military men involve water, showering and cleaning. In World War II, many of these images were shot on beaches and at lakes whereas during The Gulf War, it was man made showers were primarily available.

I will have to do a history of military showers at some point as some of the make shift structures are quite incredible, especially the work it took to bring enough water for everyone.

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