I am so grateful to editors Jonathan Penton, dan raphael, and Leona Strassberg Steiner for welcoming this weirdly challenging story, “Parade of War Orphans” aboard their spectacular Unlikely Stories 20th Anniversary Issue!
This story sought to reconcile two photographic images, both concerned with posing dead children for the camera. The images are all kinds of horrible, so if you want to look at them via link, here is one, and here is an example of the other. One may be wartime agitprop, and the other a form of Victorian post-mortem photography. I find them both agitating.
Really, is there anything sadder?
And I think all the time about cameras. How people are so used to having a camera on them all the time. How the cameras on phones are really. quite. good. How people are quick to scrounge for clicks and likes at the peril of their own morality, their own sense of right and wrong, to take the image of another and throw it out there. To choose to stay safely behind the camera, its single, insatiable lens.
I think all the time about “citizen journalists” who have no idea what the Journalist’s Code of Ethics is—or that one even exists, perhaps—especially concerning children or those among us made vulnerable via grief or loss.
Then I remembered there used to be something called a War Orphans parade in Ancient Greece. Here’s a good synopsis from Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute, and its page on the Greater Dionysia:
After a night of recovery, the day would begin with another procession. The war orphans would parade down the street in honor of their fathers’ who gave their lives for the polis. They then would be privileged front row seats at the theater. This procession would be followed by three tragic works of one playwright and a semi-comedic Satyr play.
Thank you for stopping by. I’m especially thrilled to be in the issue with a favorite author, Thaddeus Rutkowski. Same with Susan Tepper and Kyle Hemmings. Makes me feel good share a table of contents with some of the greats. Here is a link to “Parade of War Orphans,” but please poke around and enjoy the spoils of the issue entire!
Happy Anniversary, Unlikely Stories.