The power to make you hate, the power to make you cry, the power to make you reflect on your life, on theirs, but most of all the power to make you feel; that’s what each and every one of these photos possess. Each frame, each pixel incorporate strength and struggle, accomplishments and downfalls of our past, present and offer a glimpse at what’s to come.
Moments are captured in time shared by all walks of life where age, gender and race are reduced to one simple fact: that we are all human. The following 15 of the world’s most iconic photos are not just images caught at a glance with a push of a button. They are the lives and deaths of those people within them; they are brave, they are fierce, they are evil. The animal instinct we all possess for survival in physical, emotional and spiritual forms burns within us. Ignite this fire and learn about the following 15 most disturbing facts about the world’s most iconic photos…
15. The heroic heartbreak
Aaron Thompson captured this photograph of eight year old Christian Golczynski receiving the American flag draped over his dead father’s coffin. Marine Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski was killed on patrol weeks before he was due home from his second tour in Iraq. This photo screams to everyone the reality of war. An innocent child left to live life without a father because of it. It embodies the courage, bravery and strength the little boy is trying to keep despite the immense sadness and loss felt within. The photo makes you feel for him, as you see his lips trembling, eyes watering all while completely not breaking down. The biggest loss in war belongs to loved ones who have to carry on missing those who have fallen.
14. A haunted home
Picket white fences, smiling faces, families together laughing as the golden retriever wags its tail. These are the type of images you would expect to see when asking a child to draw their home and family. This chilling picture is what was produced when this question was asked of Holocaust survivor Tereska of Poland. She drew it at an institute caring for disturbed children of war. She even scratches her Polish name spelled Tereska to Teresa as she continues to draw. Her drawing represents disorder, chaos, trauma, fear and confusion. Other children were asked the same task as Tereska and produced the stereotypical happy images, but nothing was as disturbing as Tereska’s creation. The wildness of this image leaves you with empathy, sadness and a strong sense of realization of just how messed up the impact of the Holocaust was on so many.
13. The falling man
The identity of the falling man is still not 100% known, despite speculation of his identity. The man in this image will forever depict the lives lost on that fatal day. Although not classified as jumpers, the people trapped had the choice to burn and choke alive or jump 1362 feet to their deaths. Although a composed calmness radiates from the horrifying image, the fall was anything but tranquil. The lengthy fall, the wind, smoke and heat accompany a flailing, panic stricken person who knows they are about to die. September 11th, a day in history never forgotten on American soil. When greed and war rage on, it is unfortunate that the innocent suffer. Images like this display the reality of self-involved decisions ruling the lives and leading to the inevitable deaths of others.
12. The colour of ignorance
Dorothy Counts was one of the first black students admitted to Harry Harding High School in Charlotte, South Carolina in 1956. After only four days of attendance, her parents forced her to withdraw due to fear for her safety. The unbearable harassment Dorothy had to endure in an attempt to integrate races together was shameful. Girls were encouraged to spit on her, throw rocks and trash at her, her car was smashed and her family received threatening phone calls to their home. After completing her education elsewhere, Dorothy later received an honorary diploma from Harry Harding as well as a public apology in 2010 from a student who once bullied her. The school also named their library after her.
11. All was lost in Haiti
This heartbreaking photo won Patrick Farrell a Pulitzer prize for capturing the raw effects of a natural disaster. The little boy is salvaging wreckage from his home after a massive tropical storm Hannah hit Gonaives. This 2008 category 1 storm caused over 500 deaths, countless injuries and damage beyond repair. This area was already trying to recover from previous Hurricane Jeanne that hit. Over 6.6 feet of water caused people to flee to their roofs in hopes of recovery and safety. Hospitals were evacuated due to dangerous damage and over 5000 people were moved to public shelters. This natural disaster made headlines because people were outraged at the aid that international organizations were failing to provide.
10. An oath in despair
Although this photo is in black and white, there is plenty of red to be seen. Jackie’s famous pink Chanel suit is still covered in her husband John F. Kennedy’s blood shortly after his assassination. As Lyndon Johnson takes his oath of office in Air Force One unexpectedly, everyone seems to still be processing the shock and trauma just witnessed. Johnson later went on to make his first public statement as the new president: “I know the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help and God’s.” Johnson later felt insecure about his statement as he felt it sounded too harsh considering what just happened to the country.
9. A fiery collapse
There are some scenes happening before your very eyes, and you can’t seem to look away. This is what was happening to the photographer Stanley Forman who took this action shot before he realized the ultimate ending and quickly turned his back. A fire was raging on the 5th story of this building while firefighters were quickly trying to save this 19-year-old woman and her 2-year-old goddaughter. At that very moment, the fire escape gave way and the duo quickly began to fall uncontrollably. The older girl fell to her death, breaking the fall for the young baby who was able to survive. Horrified onlookers will never forget the fiery escape to an unknown Hell.
8. The cost of wrong
A visual no anthropologist can forget during an expedition in a remote desert. Unable to interfere, help or alter anything, the anthropologist passing by could only record what was being witnessed with his very own eyes. This woman was being condemned to a slow and painful death caused by dehydration and starvation. She was imprisoned inside of a wooden crate, essentially a coffin, fully alive, aware and alone. Any passerby was able to give her food if she begged, but there often was never enough. The bowls on the ground surrounding her were once filled with water. Notice the swastika engraved in the top left corner. This was the punishment for adultery in 1913 Mongolia. This photo later went on to feature in National Geographic in 1922.
7. A salute as the world watches
1968’s Mexico City Olympics gave the opportunity for silent protest with a very loud message to the world to wake up. Before the star spangled banner played, Tommie Smith (gold medalist) and John Carlos (bronze medalist) broke the illusion that everything was just fine in the world. The Olympics embody global unity. These guys told the world to treat blacks equally before we salute the land of the free. Both heads bowed, black gloved fist in the air, shoeless except for black socks, the duo shocked the world. This display stood up for black pride, black poverty, all the people lynched and killed and human rights as a whole. It is a historical moment that opened the door for future protests that continue on today.
6. A losing vulture
Little did photographer Kevin Carter know that when he decided to capture this scene, letting it unfold naturally, his life would change forever. Carter waited for twenty minutes to hopefully capture the vulture spreading its wings awaiting the dying toddler, but never did. He eventually snapped the picture and chased the vulture away. The toddler was struggling to get to a Sudanese feeding camp set up by a relief agency for the famine stricken country. Carter sold the photo to The New York Times, received the Pulitzer Prize for Photography and was publicly scrutinized for not helping the vulnerable infant. Four months after receiving the prize, Carter committed suicide.
5. An eruption of tears
This is 13-year-old Omayra Sanchez of Colombia. After a volcano erupted, a mass amount of debris, rubble and concrete disbursed everywhere. Omayra was caught under it all from the waist down for three days. Rescuers tried every possible way to free her and potentially save her life. She wasn’t getting the proper help she needed. People were outraged by the photographer’s lack of help, but there was nothing he could do. Rescuers eventually did all they could which was comfort the girl as she stayed stuck there. Hours after this photo was taken, Omayra passed away.
4. A soul on fire
It’s amazing what people will do to finally get their message heard. Thich Quang Duc is a prime example of giving literally everything you have in order to make a change in the world. This Vietnamese monk lit himself on fire in the middle of a Saigon intersection protesting against persecution of Buddhists by the Vietnamese government. This grabbed the world’s attention and eventually an army-led coup assassinated the government leader inclined by the people’s response to this horribly painful act. Witnesses say that he made no sound and kept his composure despite literally being burned to death.
3. A life changing wave of fear
On December 26, 2004, the world literally shook. One of the most famous tsunamis touches many countries and many lives. With over 35, 000 deaths, a wave of fear, panic, loss and destruction flooded the streets. The tsunami was actually equivalent to five megatons of TNT and caused the entire planet to actually vibrate. It is difficult to prepare or to know that this will happen as there are very few warning signs. It is a natural disaster that makes humans realize that they hold very little power when mother nature turns against us. This giant wave spread all over Thailand, Sri Lanka and leaving Indonesia with the biggest death toll. It is something you would expect to see in movies considering the immensity of its force.
2. The final act
“Extra! Extra! Read all about it, Marilyn Monroe found dead in her Hollywood home!” The blonde bombshell took the world by surprise when news hit that the beauty was found dead face down clutching a telephone in her Hollywood home. All eyes have always been on the actress and the news sent the world amuck. Folks did not just know Monroe for her movies, but for her personal life. Known for possibly having an affair with John F. Kennedy as well as his brother Robert, conspiracy theories couldn’t stop flying about her death. Was it suicide? Was she murdered because she was too close to the politician? The case is classified as a suicide to this day, despite a reinvestigation into the cause of her death.
1. A tearful tragedy
When James Cameron reintroduced the story of the Titanic into the world with his movie, it almost seemed unbelievable. The enormity of the size amazed anyone who saw it. The vessel provided the best of the best for the best, but class and money would sink quickly just as much as it did for those with nothing in their pockets. Of the 2224 passengers, 1500 died unnecessarily due to the lack of lifeboats provided. There were 1178 lifeboats making that just a bit over half for all who were on board. Due to the icy Atlantic Ocean, most of the passengers died within half an hour. There was room for 500 extra people in the lifeboats. This tragedy led to proper water and vessel safety for anyone travelling the open seas in the future.