The Shrine Down the Hall

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By Photographer Ashley Gilbertson/VII

Karina Lau’s bedroom has not changed. A stuffed teddy bear and floppy-eared rabbit sit on top of her floral bedspread. Angel figurines and framed family photos line her bookshelf and dresser. The only thing missing is her. Private Lau was killed seven years ago when insurgents shot down her helicopter in Falluja, Iraq. She was 20 years old. Her mother, Ruth, usually keeps the bedroom door closed and the window shades drawn, but when the photographer Ashley Gilbertson came to her home in Livingston, Calif., she opened them up.

Since 2007, Mr. Gilbertson has been recording the bedrooms to which young American service members will never return. “You walk into these rooms,” he said, “and you feel like these are the kids you used to hang out with.”

“I’ve been covering conflict and war for more than 10 years, but this is the first time that I’ve really felt like a war photographer,” said Mr. Gilbertson, who is based in New York. To see the entire series, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/21/magazine/20100321-soliders-bedrooms-slideshow.html

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