Sunday, November 29, 2015

Archive: May, 2013

POSTED: Monday, May 27, 2013, 11:55 PM

(Memorial Day "Giant Flag Folding" activity for National Constitution Center visitors, on their front lawn on Independence Mall Sunday, May 27, 2013)

Back at home from a Memorial Day day-off spent with my family,I was just looking through Time Magazine's LightBox gallery, at the photographs of Baltimore-based free-lance photographer Steve Ruark. Shooting mostly for the Associated Press, he has made 278 trips to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, covering the return of 490 fallen troops. His pictures are incredible. It is remarkable how he found so many ways to make each and every one a unique photograph, especially considering the restrictions placed on the media: stay in the same spot and do not photograph family member. Ruark, who has probably seen more of these brief ceremonies, known as dignified transfers, than any other civilian, tells Time writer Nate Rawlings that sharing his images is part of a crucial undertaking: “If something’s not photographed, it’s easy to deny...It’s a fact that Americans are getting killed overseas. Making people look at it makes them weigh the costs."

Like most Americans today, owing to the demographics of our all-volunteer military, I don't have any family or good friends in the service. So it's easy not to have to think about the risks they face every day.

About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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