Ah, the “Marlboro Marine!”
I remember the Post that morning. I took one look at the cover and thought, We’re gonna win this thing. We just kicked butt in Fallujah.
Remember the good ol’ days? When all it took was a photograph of a handsome, war-weary American kid to remind us why we were over there. . . what we fought for. . . what we believed. . . the valor, the glory, the hardscrabble “get it done” spirit that makes us who we are. . .
At a time of doubt, this image saw us through. . . convinced us to double down on destiny. . . roll up our sleeves one last time. . . take another swing, hopin’ for the home run called FREEDOM.
The “Marlboro Marine” is named Blake Miller.
Among many veterans, the image remains a matter of debate. “There’s almost too much in that picture to talk about,” says Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq vet and the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “He’s the gritty patriot who is willing to sacrifice everything, the poster child for the tough Iraq War hero. It’s one of those pictures that is vague enough so you can manipulate it into whatever you want it to be.”
The best way to understand the photo, Rieckhoff suggests, is to put it next to a picture of Miller now. “That’s a fair way of understanding that war is not what just happens over there — that when we come home, there is a whole other fight we have to deal with. That’s the part of the fight when nobody takes pictures, and it’s hard to get people’s attention, and it’s hard to get resources.”
Read more about Blake Miller.