A haunting photo of a solitary woman visiting Fort Snelling National Cemetery during a spring snowstorm struck a chord with readers and has been shared thousands of times on social media.
The image of the unidentified figure standing among the gravestones was captured by Star Tribune photographer David Joles on Wednesday afternoon, just as a snowstorm descended on the Twin Cities.
“Today after work I decided to see what our national cemetery looked like in a snowstorm,” Joles wrote on Facebook. “As I had envisioned, Fort Snelling National Cemetery was beautiful, row upon perfect row of graves partly obscured by freshly falling snow.”
He added, “Almost out of nowhere a woman appeared. … I took several photos of the scene before she almost as quickly disappeared. I now regret having not flagged her down and found out her story and the story of her loved one.”
The photo, which was posted Thursday morning to the Star Tribune’s Facebook page and ran in Thursday’s print edition, has been viewed by nearly half a million people and attracted thousands of online likes, comments and shares.
Many commenters say they don’t need to know the woman’s story, preferring to see the image as a powerful symbol for all mourners who walk the rows at Fort Snelling — or any cemetery — quietly and anonymously, every day.
One of them was Julie Bissonette Koski, who spoke for many when she wrote: “Your photo says more than an interview might have.”
Barbara Odegard Misselt added, “I like not knowing more. Because this unnamed somebody is many somebodies.”
Others whose loved ones are buried there said the photo felt personal and reflected the peace they so often find on their visits to the national cemetery.
One said the photograph was a great reminder that it was time to visit the graves of his two brothers.