Remembering Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington

Kanchanaburi, Thailand


The photo above, which shows a gravestone belonging to one of the nearly 7,000 Allied POWs buried at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery in Thailand, illustrates the difficulty we have in making sense of tragedy.

Last week two talented photojournalists, Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, were killed in the Libyan city of Misrata. In the past several days articles and tributes have painted a picture of men, one from England and the other from North Carolina, who traveled often, traveled relatively light, and traveled for a purpose.

In a New York Times article titled War, in Life and Death, David Carr writes, “Tim and Chris were very different men who died because they had something in common: each thought it important to bear witness, to make images that communicated human suffering and send them out to the world.”

“Many people have died in the recent wars the two men covered,” Carr continues, “and we should not make the journalist’s error of elevating the deaths of Tim and Chris above those of others. But beyond the personal loss for their families and friends, there is a civic loss when good journalists are killed.”

I certainly feel the loss. I’ve been in the habit for some time now of visiting Chris Hondros’ website to check out his images, appreciating what they say about the world, about our neighbors. My favorite (if I can use the word for something so tragic) is the iconic photo of a little girl in Tel Afar, Iraq, terrified, with her parents’ blood splattered on her face and clothes. In 2007, Chris recounted the incident on NPR.

This post is not a call for all travelers to head off for the Tel Afars and Misratas of the world. It is, however, a gentle reminder that travel can be about much more than gear selection and budgets and beach parties. It is also about the question of Why? What might we learn from people like Chris and Tim, who were often asked why they did what they did and could give a profound answer? How can we incorporate that into how we experience the world?

Reflecting in Vanity Fair on his friend Tim’s death, Sebastian Junger says, “That’s also part of what you died for: the decision to live a life that was thrown open to all the beauty and misery and ugliness and joy in the world….What a vision you had, my friend. What a goddamned terrible, beautiful vision of things.”


Posted by | Comments (1)  | April 26, 2011
Category: Ethical Travel, General, Images from the road, Notes from the collective travel mind

One Response to “Remembering Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington”

  1. Remembering Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington | Travel Guide And Holiday Says:

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