Reddit | yeeeet99

10+ Gut-Wrenching Photos Taken During Seriously Powerful Moments

We've often heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but some are so instantly striking that they make us seek out the words to go with them.

Whether it's because of the emotion we can see on the faces of those involved, the extreme actions they're taking, or just our ability to recognize some hard times unfolding, some photos freeze us in place. And even though we'll surely be saddened by the story of what happened, we have to know anyway.

Today, we have some particularly evocative photos to witness and reflect on. Hopefully, they can offer us some perspective.

1. These before and after shots demonstrate just how powerful nature can be.

Reddit | NicoleJackson11

This lighthouse was hit by what looks like a fearsome ice storm that all but transformed it into a massive, frozen obelisk.

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2. Although this tumor picture is pretty disgusting, it also shows just how serious one of them can easily become.

Reddit | The_Original_Nut

As you might have noticed, this one actually managed to grow hair and even sprouted a couple of teeth. What a chilling development.

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3. A sight like this is all too common during the horrific ravages of war.

Reddit | SausageMcWonderpants

Here we see a U.S. soldier during the Korean War being comforted after his friend died in battle. Nothing can compare to this kind of devastation.

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4. This Bonzai tree may not seem significant on its own, but it managed to survive one of the world's biggest catastrophes.

Reddit | naturebeatsnurture

Despite the fact that it was in Hiroshima, Japan during the infamous nuclear attack on August 6, 1945, the tree has since lived to be 400-years-old.

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5. This photo goes a long way to explain why the events of this civil rights protest in Selma, Alabama are now known as "Bloody Sunday."

Reddit | Johannes_P

According to the U.S. National Parks Service, 600 protesters only managed to march six blocks to the Edmund Pettus Bridge before police beat them with billy clubs and launched tear gas at them.

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6. This woman has a special reason to be so happy about losing so much of her hair.

Reddit | purpleball00n

That's because this marks the sixth time the 21-year-old has donated her hair to give a little comfort to those going through serious illnesses.

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7. The sad condition of this elephant has led animal rights activists to call for serious revisions to a religious festival in Sri Lanka.

Reddit | TheRealOcsiban

As CNN reported, the Esala Perahera festival is a Buddhist celebration full of fireworks and dancers, but also involves forcing elephants like 70-year-old Tikiiri to walk long distances over hours to bless those attending.

International backlash has since compelled organizers to retire Tikiiri from the parade, but calls for the government to end the role of elephants in the festival persist.

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8. This message was written at the Northern State Hospital near Sedro-Woolley, Washington and it was sadly accurate.

Reddit | afihusky86

According to The Seattle Times, up until 1972, this hospital was an insane asylum that not only had a broad definition of "insane," but regularly subjected patients to unnecessary electric shock treatments, heavy sedation with experimental drugs, "insulin coma therapy," and even lobotomies.

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9. This Vietnam veteran saw no reason to believe anyone in government who said they appreciated his service.

Reddit | aldahuda

And he couldn't have found a clearer way to express that than to throw his war medal at the U.S. Capitol Building during this demonstration.

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10. These boys in Northern Ireland are only children, but they were already forced to grow up in many ways.

Reddit | RoadRunner71

It's clear from this photo that they're living in tense times and that couldn't be more accurate.

When this was taken, riots were unfolding in Belfast following the death of Provisional Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands after a 66-day hunger strike.

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11. This piece of the Berlin wall is notable for being covered with graffiti on the East German side and completely blank on the West German Side.


As CNN reported, this is because East Germans at the time were all too aware of the "death strip" between the wall that guards could shoot people for entering.

When that's going on right in your neighborhood, it gives you a lot to protest.

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12. Here we can see hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets in Hong Kong.

Reddit | yeeeet99

Reuters reported that they were specifically there to protest a bill allowing Hong Kong defendants to be extradited to mainland China, but many also fight to ensure Hong Kong retains independence from China at large.

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13. This young man's passionate indignation is palpable as sits on a statue near the New Haven County Courthouse on May 1, 1970.

Reddit | bl4ckn4pkins

He is there for the trial of Black Panther leaders Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins, who were on trial for a murder committed by another member against a then-suspected police informant.

According to Slate, the actual shooter had already confessed, which led supporters to believe that the two leaders were baselessly charged as a means to undermine the organization's strength.

Seale and Huggins were released the year following after the jury failed to reach a verdict.

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14. Antonio Basco lost his wife Marge in the El Paso mass shooting. She was his only family.

Reddit | hiimcoleman

At a loss, he posted an invite on Facebook inviting the whole town to attend her memorial service. Hundreds of people came and he didn't have to say goodbye alone.

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15. Prohibition was taken very, very seriously.

Reddit | derzto

When moonshine operations were found, the equipment wasn't just confiscated. The Kentucky National Guard actually used small tanks to destroy it all.

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16. Unsurprisingly, the common person wasn't thrilled with the whole Prohibition thing.

Reddit | derzto

In this pic, you can see illegal moonshine being dumped out a window. Below, a bystander reaches out with a cup in hopes of catching one last drink.

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17. This is just a group of soccer fans, right?

Reddit | Cyrus-V

Nope. You see, in Iran women aren't allowed to attend sporting events, but that wasn't about to stop these fans. They donned wigs and fake beards so that they could watch a match in public.

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18. There are very few color photographs from WWI, but that makes the few we have even more powerful.

Reddit | CatPooedInMyShoe

This photo was taken in the Łódź Ghetto, where Jewish laborers were forced to make the thousands of straw overshoes needed by the German army during the attempt to invade Russia.

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19. These Native American men in traditional clothing raised the flag at the Lincoln Memorial in 1936.

Reddit | heyounion

It was 12 years after Native Americans were granted US citizenship by President Coolidge and barely 50 years after the last of the major wars between tribes and colonists.

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20. When a volcano erupts, it can be difficult to visualize just how big the ash cloud is and why it can affect the weather in far away places.

Reddit | Manasveer

This picture was taken 115 nautical miles above Earth and shows the massive scale of the debris cloud created by the Kliuchevskoi Volcano.

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21. People make a lot of assumptions about what those with Down Syndrome can achieve in their lives.

Reddit | vanish619

Kris Scharoun-DeForge and Paul DeForge both have Down Syndrome, but ignored the people who said that they couldn't get married. In 2018, they celebrated their 25th anniversary.

Sadly, Paul passed away in 2019 after complications with dementia. He was 56.

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22. Polio has been gone long enough that we forget how awful it was.

Reddit | MummyLongLegs

This photo was taken in 1950 and shows a number of children in iron lungs being cared for by a nurse.

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23. You'd be forgiven if you thought this photo was from the more distant past.

Reddit | Titan407

But it's actually from 2014, after an Israeli strike on Gaza City. An estimated 1.7 million civilians lived there and the strikes left them with serious power and water shortages alongside the damage and lost lives.

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24. You may not recognize this building right away, but the sign makes it clear.

Reddit | barbymarley

The photo was taken in 1969 during the early stages of construction of one of the World Trade Center towers.

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25. Speaking of the World Trade Center, this iconic photo is of Philippe Petit, who tightrope-walked between the towers in 1974.

Reddit | brooklynmoon

It wasn't a legal walk and involved careful planning to get to the top of the towers secretly with all of the equipment.

A documentary called Man on Wire won the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2009, and there was a movie made in 2015 called The Walk staring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit.

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26. When it comes to real lasting change, we often need to look to the next generation.

Reddit | whoisrohit

This is Olga Misik, a Russian student who bravely read out the Russian constitution before a wall of riot police.

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27. Technically, this photo was taken seconds before the actual powerful moment.

Reddit | nokia621

However, context matters here. You see, there is an IRA bomb in that red car and seconds after this photo was taken, it exploded.

While the people posing for the photo survived, the photographer wasn't so lucky.

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28. These days, we picture the likes of Tom Hanks when Apollo 13 is mentioned.

Reddit | RoseHorizon

But here's a pic from the actual event: the damaged Service Module just after it was jettisoned from the Command Module.

Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise all returned to Earth safely.

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29. We don't often get the chance to say goodbye to an entire species.

Reddit | GallowBoob

But in 2018, Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino passed away, leaving only his daughter and granddaughter. With no males of the species remaining, it is now functionally extinct, though there is still some hope that his preserved semen can be used with IVF to breed new males.

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30. We've all see the images of Notre Dame burning in spring 2019, but this one has always stood out to me.

Reddit | Casey_White

You don't need to see the man's face to understand that he's stunned, watching so much history burn.

Thankfully, though the roof and steeple were lost, the cathedral still stands.

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31. There is so much anger in this photo and it was in response to a six-year-old African-American girl.

Reddit | Nofapsamurai

These parents protested for days after Ruby Bridges became the first child of color to attend William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana, 1960.

"All I want for Christmas is a Clean White School," says one sign. Oof.

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32. Michael and Edmond Navratil made headlines as the "Titanic orphans" but that was only the beginning of their story.

Reddit | QueenOfDumnonia

They were the only children to survive the disaster that had no family survive with them, but when their story was published in the papers, the truth proved stranger.

It turned out that their father had kidnapped them and boarded the Titanic under false names. During the sinking, their dad put them in Collapsible D, the last safe lifeboat.

The publicity about the "Titanic orphans" reached their mother, Marcelle Caretto, in France and White Star Line provided her free passage to the US to be reunited with them.

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33. Twenty-four years of Pride.

Reddit | cinnamonbunnss

Nick Cardello and Kurt English took the first photo together in Washington in 1993. Twenty-four years later, they recreated the pic in the exact same location. They've been together long enough to see gay marriage become legal and tied the knot.

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34. Smiling in the face of racism.


When the English Defense League held a protest in Birmingham, UK, this photo became the most iconic. Birmingham has a large population of South Asian people, making it a prime target for the EDL's racist agenda.

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35. A powerful first meeting after 73 years connected by tragedy.

Reddit | jacathinker

These Jewish men arrived at Auschwitz on the same day and were in such proximity to each other that their tattoos are 10 numbers apart.

But it was only decades later, though the Last Eyewitness Project, that they were properly introduced.

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36. In 1906, San Francisco was hit with a major earthquake, which then prompted fires to break out throughout the city.

Reddit | Lord_Cornwallis_III

This photograph was taken on Sacramento street as onlookers watched the fires burn.

It's estimated that more than 3,000 people died and about 80% of the city was destroyed.

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37. In 1913, this Mongolian woman was sentenced to an unimaginably cruel punishment.

Reddit | Limpykin

This is called immurement and it involves locking somebody in an enclosed space like this with no exits.

This is generally done with the expectation that they'll die in there as only volunteers will give food or water to those imprisoned in here.

The reason this woman was forced to stay here is unclear.

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38. Sticking to your plans for a nonviolent protest can be difficult in the face of violent opposition.

Reddit | EssoEssex

That's why members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee would practice not reacting to violence on each other before going out to fight for civil rights.

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39. The sight of a caged animal is often a sad sight on its own, but this one is particularly distressing.

Reddit | beaverkc

This is not only because the ape pictured is clearly miserable in captivity, but recognizes what is keeping it there.

The only thing worse than being trapped is knowing there's nothing you can do about it.

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