Open Trenches


My mind drifted as I looked out the window of the SUV. The voices speaking in Tagalog (the national Filipino language) were now off in the distance as I sunk deep inside my own head. I can usually pick out enough words to piece together what the conversation is about, but my brain had switched off many miles back.

We pulled into the Long Island National Cemetery and along the road lined with hundreds of graves until we arrived at the walls. Cristy's husband had been a pilot during the Vietnam conflict and although he only passed away a few years ago from a heart attack, his ashes were placed here. A place for her to visit.

I walked along each side of the walls, reading the names and photographing the things that loved ones had left behind. Gifts that were never meant to be used. There were emblems of different faiths next to each of the names. Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Jew …etc. United in war regardless of beliefs.

I came across a wall where names were yet to be engraved and remains yet to be placed. A sign nearby read ‘CAUTION - OPEN TRENCHES - PROCEED WITH CARE.'
Yes, with care.

Derek Clark

Documentary photographer based in Scotland, UK. Winner of UK professional Photographer of the Year 2012 in the News category and member of The Kage Collective.