The Digital Journalist
© David Leeson

The Evil of War. El Salvador

This was made during my second trip to El Salvador in 1988. I have always believed this scene represents much of what I see as the evil of war. The dead rebels, dragged into position for the village to view. The rebels in this photo were mere children, 10-14 years old, one of them headless, apparently the victim of a direct hit to the neck with a large-caliber weapon. For some reason, the indignity of dragging a victim for a public viewing has always been difficult for me to see. Their pants pulled down to their knees, a result of the dragging. It is a timeless image seen in numerous war photos spanning generations.

The image is memorable for me because one week later, at approximately the same time, I was back in Dallas covering an Easter Egg Hunt. When I realized that seven days earlier at the same time I was photographing dead, headless children on display in El Salvador, I turned to a young mother and told her. She backed away from me. My reality was a threat. It's the same today. It was hard for me too. How do you make sense of such disparity in the world?"