To Serve and To Protect?

8 JULY 1979 — Thirty years ago, this image impressed upon me the profound disconnect between what a country’s armed forces contended to be and what they actually were. Three decades after I made this picture, that impression is the same. What is most sad about this image, I think, is that the National Guard member pictured in it was probably as trapped by circumstance as were the poor young boys in his grasp.

Poverty. Illiteracy. Misery. Not exactly ingredients for enlightenment.

Just moments after I made this image, the commanding officer of the patrol expelled me from the group. I think he understood what I saw.

The image making and storytelling skills I acquired during this conflict are the foundation of my role today as backpack journalist. As we mark the 30th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, I’m posting scans of some of the original images I made for UPI during that war, and explaining their significance. I do this in recognition and gratitude to the country and people who have given me so much. Thank you.