I don't usually do current events, but this picture affects me greatly, and to me is one of the iconic images of the Iraq war. You can click the image for a much larger version. It's worth it.
The man is Major Mark Bieger. His patrol was attacked by a suicide car bomber in Mosul several days ago. According to someone who was on the scene, the terrorists could have chosen to wait for the American units to progress further down the street, but chose to stage their attack when the American's were passing a group of about twenty waving, jumping children. In the words of the photographer:
"Major Bieger, I had seen him help rescue some of our guys a week earlier during another big attack, took some of our soldiers and rushed this little girl to our hospital. He wanted her to have American surgeons and not to go to the Iraqi hospital. She didn't make it. I snapped this picture when Major Bieger ran to take her away. He kept stopping to talk with her and hug her."
I feel personally touched by this picture, because that would be me. If I were in the military, my education would have made me an officer right off the bat, and knowing how I do things, I would probably be about where Major Bieger is in his career right now. That would be me running with that girl. Stopping to comfort her when she needed it. Watching her die.
That's why a picture like this one breaks my heart. I've held my sick daughters just like this - their feet sticking out the bottom of the blanket. You put your face close to theirs so you can talk to them in a low, calm tone, telling them that they'll be okay in a little bit. You show them the confidence on your own face so they know not to be scared. I know that's what he was doing.
Like so many of the greatest works of art, literature, this picture of this moment in time brings together the exuberant innocence of childhood, the courage and compassion of humanity in the face of adversity, the extreme barbarity of which we are also capable, and the inevitability and finality of death.