Pictures taken by Sun photographers in 2007 reflected a year of trial for America, from the continuing conflict in Iraq to the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech to plagues of murder, dog-fighting and drugs in Baltimore. But their images also offered joy and hope. Throughout this section, we offer a sampling of the best of them.


Photograph by Chiaki Kawajiri

Twins Jay and Sean Coble take a bath together at home. The pair spent time in foster care before being adopted by Maureen Shanklin, a remarkable woman who is raising 16 children, 14 of them adopted. They came home to her in all different ways. Came home -- that's how she always puts it.


Photograph by Elizabeth Malby

This image at a random checkpoint in Iraq is representative of the absence of clarity our troops are facing on a daily basis. In an environment where sandstorms rage and politics are treacherous, American soldiers must attempt to discern friend from foe.


Photograph by Algerina Perna

When Edwin Frederick O'Brien was installed as the 15th Archbishop of Baltimore at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, the pomp and ceremony was visible everywhere. To Perna, O'Brien's pensive moment, caught outside the cathedral during the procession of bishops and priests, gave this image a special appeal.


Photograph by Doug Kapustin

This budgerigar parakeet is wearing a set of custom-designed headphones that provide auditory feedback in a University of Maryland research laboratory. The idea is to hear what the birds hear. Robert J. Dooling, a UM psychology professor, uses this parakeet and others to better understand the human hearing system. Apart from the research benefits, this parakeet offered a unique photo opportunity. "I can safely say I've never even come close to seeing anything like this," said Kapustin.


Photograph by Gene Sweeney Jr.

Nate Adams, the winner of the FMX competition in The Dew Action Tour at Camden Yards last summer, showed his stuff during the first of two runs. "Having ridden a motorcycle for the last 40 years of my life, I marvel at what these 'kids' do with these familiar machines," said Sweeney. "The sheer nerve of the extreme sports participants is what appeals to me as a spectator and as a photographer. The images are always spectacular."


Photograph by Christopher T. Assaf

The expression on the face of Ravens fan Ken Foster of Bel Air, as the fourth-quarter clock ticked down on a 15-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, told the story of a disastrous season, highlighted by a record number of successive losses. "We didn't deserve to win," said Foster. The pain was exacerbated by a series of hairbreadth losses to some of the best teams in the NFL. The low points included a seeming game-winning field goal that bounced off the goal posts, in and out of the end zone and another last-second loss to the undefeated New England Patriots.


Photograph by Glenn Fawcett

With Baltimore's murder epidemic continuing, the Rev. Trudy Greene (second from left) of Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church and Patricia Harracksingh (third from left) of Gwyn Oak United Methodist Church bow their heads in prayer as they stood at the intersection of Denison Street and Clifton Avenue, where Neil Rather was murdered. They were attending a service hosted by John Wesley United Methodist Church to memorialize Baltimore residents killed in city violence. More than 150 United Methodist pastors and more than 200 guests gathered for the service and an unveiling of a strategy to combat the violence called "Hope for the City."


Photograph by Andre F. Chung

Irvin Feagin, a recovering Baltimore heroin addict, was photographed for a Sun series on the heroin substitute buprenorphrine, called "bupe." Irvin had been on heroin for 20 years and had spent much of that time sliding back and forth between jail and the street. The bupe had helped him stay clean long enough to begin repairing his life, and he was optimistic about the future for the first time in a long time. "I really love this photo because both the 20 years of pain and the new determination are present in his gaze," said Chung. "He looks like a man reborn."


Photograph by Barbara Haddock Taylor

A pair of Maryland diamondback terrapins stole the show in April when legislation aimed at protecting their habitat was signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley. O'Malley was clearly savoring the moment as he and the terrapins mugged for the camera and legislative leaders including House Speaker Michael Busch (right) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller got into the moment. For a photographer assigned to a potentially mundane bill signing, the event turned into a surprising delight. "I've always enjoyed covering the Maryland legislature because you never now what might happen," said Haddock Taylor.


Photograph by Kim Hairston

Ketan Patel, a bowler with the Maryland Cricket Club, keeps his eye on the ball during his delivery. He and about 30 other members of the club have been promised a semi-permanent cricket field to be built by next summer at Cloverland Park in northern Baltimore County. For the cricket players -- many of whom hail from India, Pakistan and the Caribbean -- the new field marks an important sign of recognition for their sport, which attracts a huge following in countries in the British Commonwealth.


Photograph by Lloyd Fox

When Cal Ripken Jr. began talking about his family at his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., last July, he looked down and wiped a few tears from his eye. "It was one of those moments that you can picture in your mind ... and then it happens," said Fox, whose front-row seat at the ceremony set the stage for a perfect storytelling image to mark a memorable event in Baltimore sporting history.


Photograph by Jed Kirschbaum

Many people responded to this image when it first appeared in The Sun in April. "We all should stop in our daily routine and think of the sacrifices these citizen soldiers make while we go about our everyday lives," Kirschbaum said. In the image, Staff Sgt. Daryl Cheatham of Edgewood held his godson Hunter McColligan, 4, of Joppa as he prepared to leave with his unit for Fort Dix for training before the deployment of his unit, the Headquarters Company of the 8th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hunter's father, Sgt. Robert McColligan, went to Iraq in 2005.


Photograph by Kenneth K. Lam

Johnny Hudson, 29, of Edgewood, enjoys a piece of birthday cake at a bowling alley. Hudson, who was born without both arms and one leg, has lived his life through the use of his foot and toes. He is able to drive a custom-built minivan, eat and interact with others using his foot. Every Tuesday night, Hudson bowls with friends in a league at AMF Edgewood Lanes. "It was a very enjoyable and inspiring experience to have met and photographed Johnny Hudson," said Lam.


Photograph by Karl Merton Ferron

Baltimore Animal Control Officer Ricky Martin struggles to help a pedestrian after his two pit bulls were allegedly attacked by a third during their daily walk on Frederick Avenue at Morley Street in Southwest Baltimore. The pedestrian declined to give his name. The menace of pit bulls trained to fight came into focus last year in the Baltimore area, where there were a number of vicious attacks by pit bulls, and elsewhere, when Michael Vick, the star quarterback of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, was convicted of charges related to the raising and killing of fighting dogs at his rural estate near Smithfield, Va.


Photograph by Amy Davis

Angelo Rice, 5, wasn't quite ready to face his first day of kindergarten in August at Yorkwood Elementary School in Northeast Baltimore. But he and his mother, Daria Rice, kept their sense of humor about what lay ahead. A first day of school might seem too predictable to be challenging, but the scene almost always yields tender moments to be shared with Sun readers, Davis said. HAITIAN VIOLENCE

Photograph by Monica Lopossay

Two young Haitian girls wait in the pediatric department of the main hospital in Cite-Soleil, Haiti, a city notorious for its violence. Bullet holes can be seen throughout the city, and the children's ward of the hospital was no exception. Last summer, the U.S. Naval Hospital Ship Comfort, based in Baltimore, deployed to Central and South America on a medical humanitarian mission, including a week treating patients in Haiti. The image offered a metaphor for the chaos faced by the Comfort's Haitian patients.

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