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Lights Up

by AJ

I am on my back. I cannot tell if my eyes are open or closed. First there is darkness, and then the images that fade in and out in front of me are such that I have never seen before. Smoke, fire, shattered glass. Blood. Sand.

The loud whirring of a helicopter above tells me I am not alone. I do not know if this scares me or comforts me. I do not know anything at the moment. There is terrible pressure on my leg and sharp corners dig into my sides. I am halfway on the sidewalk, my legs are in the street. I cannot move my legs.

Something is strangling me. I reach up with my right arm to my neck and feel tattered leather. I realize that my camera case is causing me this trouble, wedged between my left arm and my ribcage. I pull at it with the little strength I can muster to jostle it free. I slowly lift my head up and look down at my feet. I am missing my right foot. The pressure in my legs turns into pain very quickly upon this realization. There is blood on the ground around me, and bodies. I do not know if the blood belongs to them or me. There is sand in my face, dust kicking up along the street corner.

I had been on my way to photograph carnage. I was not supposed to be carnage.

I manage to turn myself over. I am trying to get pull myself onto the sidewalk, I am slowly pulling myself along, although my limbs are not cooperating as I would like them to. I think I have passed out. Lights up again, and I realize I am being lifted from the ground by men I do not know. There is a van, and there are two children in the van. I am reminded of the faces of children around this country who do not know why there is, but there is, war.

I believe I am trying to tell the man who is cradling me by my arms, "Find Saeed, please find Saeed," but I do not hear anything except for the helicopter above us.

I am now on my back again and I am in the van. I feel the van shudder. I can still hear the helicopter above us, but now that sound is accompanied by the voices of children. I believe they are in the van with me. I hear them whimpering. There is another flash of light, and I do not hear or feel or think again.

Namir Noor-Eldin, 22, was a Reuters news photographer providing coverage of the Iraq War. He was killed in an attack by a U.S. Apache helicopter on July 12, 2007, along with his assistant, Saeed Chmagh, 40, and ten others, including two children, when American forces incorrectly identified Namir's camera as a weapon.

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