“I Am Not A Hero. I Am A Survivor”

 Nina Berman’s Purple Hearts is on display at the Jen Bekman Gallery in New York City.  The show opened on the 8th of August and will remain open until the 30th.  Berman will be conducting a talk at the gallery on August 29th, for details check the Bekman website.

A personal friend of mine, who I had the honor of meeting in Iraq in 2003 was photographed by Nina Berman in the late part of 2003 while recovering from wounds sustained in Baghdad.  My friends name is Jordan Johnson, and on July 20, 2003 she was a 23 year old 1st LT in the 1st Armor Division (1AD). 

Jordan was in a tactical vehicle that left the road and flipped multiple times in the darkness of the night.  The accident happened very near the location where we lived, and the sounds of the crash sounded out of place against the normal backdrop of nightly gunfire in the distance.  When the vehicle stopped flipping, the driver was dead, a few people had been thrown clear of the vehicle, and Jordan was trapped in the wreckage, her right leg almost traumatically amputated below the knee.  The base of her spine was broken, and she had a closed head wound that would send her into a coma.  This small Texan was lucky as the others with her were dead or would loose multiple limbs as a result of the crash.

After being evaced I knew nothing of what her condition was.  For a week I did not know if she was dead of alive.  Slowly word got to us from Kuwait and then Germany that she was alive, but that she may loose the leg and her other injuries would add to the difficult journey to recovery.

In the end, the leg was saved, and Jordan would walk again.  She walked a long painful road to “recovery” and left the Army.  Left with the physical scars as an outward reminder of her time in Iraq, it is the hidden scars that I see in our emails and sporadic phone conversations.  These are the wounds that all of Berman’s subject carry, often more devastating that the physical, and hard to capture with photography.

If you are in NYC or going to be there before August 30th, make the time to see the Purple Hearts show at the Jen Bekman Galley.

** Image by Nina Berman and linked to from her Purple Hearts site **

** Quoted title by Jordan Johnson **

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~ by Phil Nesmith on August 22, 2007.

 
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