This is a fascinating piece of writing on the aftermath of MH17by one of Australia’s best journalists, Paul McGeough. In amongst the horror of the crash, McGeough and his photographer colleague Kate Geraghty collect sunflower seeds from the crash site of MH17 and arrange to give them to family members who lot loved ones in the disaster. It is compelling for a number of reasons. The beauty of the story. The spontaneous nature of his gesture. The compassion.
Journalists generally by nature are a hardbitten lot, they see and hear a lot of the awfulness the world dishes up. Many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress as a result of over exposure to traumatic events. The Dart Center tellingly explore this theme. You often don’t see the sensitive side to journalists. This is what is on view here, in this piece.
Geraghty and McGeough’s actions are reminiscent of the Lone Pine from the Gallipoli Battlefield from the First World War, where pine cones were brought home by soldiers, and Turkish pine propagated, creating a physical link between when family members had died traumatically, and home. Physicality of linkages so important in those days when people bared travelled outside their town or district, let alone country. I wonder if it becomes increasingly important again as the physical is replaced by the pixel; letters, phone lines, photos, everything becomes digital, less “real”, and we end up seeking or even craving a more tangible world.
The piece is worth reading for story, but also the grief of those who lost loved ones. You will see why McGeough is one of our best.