Wednesday, January 21, 2015

‘Children of the Fallen’

‘Children of the Fallen’

Introduction: The making of The Washington Post’s ‘Children of the Fallen’
Avery and Alaya Alexander, 9: Fatherless from the start.

January 20 2015 - Over the weekend, several of my colleagues and I published a very ambitious project called Children of the Fallen: 14 portraits of children whose parents died during the conflict in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history.

But our original idea was far simpler. We wanted to profile just one child, the son of Johnny “Mike” Spann, a CIA paramilitary officer killed in a prison uprising in Afghanistan — and the very first American to die in the conflict. His son was just a baby when he died. My editor, Lynda Robinson, who helms The Post’s local enterprise team, wanted to profile the way his father’s absence had shaped this boy’s life as a way of offering a different perspective on the impact of the war.

Calvin Davis, 6, is shown at his Menifee, Calif., home on Nov. 19. His father, Marine Staff Sgt. Jonathan D. Davis, died in Afghanistan in 2013. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

I had just interviewed Spann’s widow, Shannon, that spring for a story about the CIA’s Memorial Wall. But when I called Shannon and pitched her on letting us profile her son, she was reluctant. She lives in a new state, works in a different job and enjoys her newfound privacy.

So Lynda came up with a different idea: Instead of focusing on a single child, we’d write short narratives about 14 kids, one for each year since 9/11. In the end, “Children of the Fallen” contains 14 vignettes about 17 kids, whose ages range from 6 to 34 and who live all across the country. (For some years, we chose to focus on a set of siblings.) read more>>>

Children of the Fallen: Portraits of Loss
The knock at the door. The shock and grief that followed. An absence that lasts a lifetime.

Much of the country grew weary of the longest war in U.S. history years ago. But for the hundreds of children who lost parents in Afghanistan, the conflict that began 26 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will never really end. They continue to pay the cost of war with the cheers they won’t hear from the soccer sidelines, the hugs they won’t get at their high school graduations, the arms they won’t clasp down the aisle at their weddings. read more w/links to each>>>

Portraits: One for each year of the Afghanistan war

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