May 18, 2012
by: G2anderm

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Videos are an easy way to express information or ideas. For my project, I used clips and pictures of the damage caused by rockets and explosive devices, both physical and psychological. Many perspectives can be derived from these videos with some thought. This wasn’t limited to just those directly affected but also those indirectly affected, such as witnesses and family members. The videos used depict the physical damage dealt by a direct impact of a rocket as well as of an IED. One shows the physical damage done by a rocket piercing one’s body without detonation. Two more show the body (or missing body) of men killed by IEDs. A perspective of how witnesses may be emotionally scarred is given when one soldier begins walking around disoriented and screaming out. I wanted to use another clip from Black Hawk Down which shows a rocket which detonated inside a militia’s chest cavity but couldn’t find it. All of these show how devastating these weapons can be and show that there are several ways they can cause damage.

The passages I recorded from The Things They Carried relate by explaining the damage caused by explosives. First comes one about Kiowa’s corpse, detailing how shrapnel from an artillery round or mortar cut up his upper body and blew off part of his shoulder. Next comes one with much more detail, explaining all the physical damage done to a VC soldier after O’Brien threw a frag grenade at his feet. These give an idea of the physical harm an explosive can do. Because these come directly from a Vietnam War veteran, these passages show how survivors and witnesses may act later on in life, although O'Brian does a good job not corrupting the information too much with his emotions.

In my presentation I used a passage from my outside reading book as well as some pictures. The passage is from a book about WWI. It tells that although men could get used to awful living conditions, the fear and death of artillery shells and bullets never left them. That’s a perfect example of the psychological damage done by explosives and of the indirect damage done when soldiers witness fellow soldiers being killed. The pictures depict bodies of victims of rockets and explosives, people using these weapons, people who witnessed the death of the victim, and a picture of a woman who was recently left alone because her soldier-husband (?) was killed. These are all victims either directly or indirectly of an explosion.

The song I included is Mama by My Chemical Romance. It seems like a fitting song—the lyrics are basically a man writing a letter home to his mom saying he’s going to die. In music video’s I’ve seen this song used with, this plays accompanied with footage of WWII or movies about WWII. This song makes me think of the awful conditions and death soldiers may face. The lyrics “we let the fire just bathe us” can be related to the way the people featured in my project were consumed by fiery explosions. My theme is the effect of this type of scenario.

Included in my project are parts of an article by The Save the Children Fund (UK): an organization dedicated to saving children in warzones. It contains relevant information about the effects of explosives on children as well as adults. This also gives perspective that the initial physical damage to a person is not the only damage done. It explains that friends and family members will be affected and that victims may develop psychological and social problems later in life. We saw this in Forrest Gump when Lt. Dan became a bitter alcoholic following the loss of his legs. The Save the Children Fund (UK) is a reputable source because it is a non-profit organization for saving lives and much of this information I was already aware about. I also asked you and you agreed it’s a reputable source.

My personal thoughts on this theme have changed throughout the project. When I asked myself how much damage a rocket or other explosive device can do, my first thought was the immediate physical damage to the people exposed to these weapons. Now I also will think about the families of the victims and the lives of victims who survive beyond that point and the additional problems they’ll face. The theme I chose was picked out of a list of random questions about the world. This was done so because the effects of a rocket or explosive are a reality to soldiers, such as several of the men in The Things They Carried.

Several things changed my perspective on the theme. One of them was the way that Tim O’Brian’s haunted by his memories of corpses and his friends’ deaths. Watching a video of a soldier breaking down after witnessing his friend’s death and information from The Save the Children Fund (UK) also got me thinking about lasting and secondary effects of these weapons, or any. Lastly, the stats of the number of soldiers with PTSD and taking anti-depressants made me think of how traumatizing these events can be.