” Hozho Nahasdlii “

I’ve covered a lot of these. Families say goodbye to sons and fathers – and mothers and daughters. They go off to war and we carry on here.

But either I wasn’t paying enough attention before, or this one was different. Cause it sure felt different.

As one of about 800 people packed into this military hanger feet or inches from someone feeling the depth of emotion these people were was intense. Humbling. Makes you realize the troubles or issues you face daily as an individual pale in comparison to those that these families and servicemen will deal with.

Servicemen turn and wave to their families and friends as they reach the top of the ramp and board the plane that will take them on the first leg of their trip to Afghanistan.

One of the most intense goodbyes I have seen was the one Spc. Jeremy Smith’s family from Monument Valley gave him before he boarded the plane that would take him away from them and on his way to Afghanistan.

They are Navajo.

Each member of the large family hugged him for a long time, then he went on to the next to hug them. His mother must have held him for five minutes, and you could see in their faces that they went through a wide range of emotions in that one hug.

Later I saw Spc. Smith’s mom holding a sign in their native language that read:  “Hozho Nahasdlii” which she explained translates roughly to “Walk in Beauty” or “Walk in Harmony”.

Here’s hoping they all can find that path.

Specialist Jeremy Smith says a long goodbye to his girlfriend Semira Crank before he boarded the plane that would take him and the rest of the 118th Engineer Sapper Company on the first leg of his deployment to Afghanistan, Friday July 9, 2010.

Scott Sommerdorf

tidbits: Internship, Sacramento Bee, 1976, hired to staff position: Sacramento Union 1977, (Yes, I am old - but don't feel like it) San Francisco Chronicle 1987, DoP SF Chron, 1994, Salt Lake Tribune 2005-present. Judge, POY, 2000. Most proud of the people I was able to give a start to in the business, and the good friends who've remained friends through the good times and the crummy times.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Man, great shots. The first one has wonderful composition and the toning makes it really fit.

  2. What type of film was this shot on? Thanks. Paul.

  3. Thanks Patrick and Bryan.
    Paul, this was shot on digital, but I dropped the color out of them thinking that the simpler tones would help the reader get to the emotion faster. But the look does connect me back to shooting film. I miss the darkroom.

  4. HI Scott … I saw this in the paper when it ran – liked it

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