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A Photo's Influence On The Vietnam War

1425 words - 6 pages

Have you ever heard the famous saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” The pictures taken during the Vietnam War would put that quote to shame; it would produce much more words. The Vietnam War lasted from 1957 to 1975. Ho Chi Minh, the nationalist leader of North Vietnam, strived to make the country communist. However, Hgo Dinh Diem, the autocratic leader of South Vietnam, pushed against Minh to make Vietnam anti-communist. With America being extremely anti-communist, the US government gave aid to South Vietnam. This decision plunged the US into the longest war the nation had ever been involved in; the Vietnam War. With many men being forced to the draft, and large amount of ...view middle of the document...

The protest of the monks of setting themselves on fire inspired more of a defiance towards Diem’s authority, and encouraged the overthrowing of his government. With the South Vietnamese government unstable, the Minh’s Viet Cong easily took advantage of the opportunity and ended up controlling seventy-five percent of the population. Tensions rose between South Vietnam and the Viet Cong, causing more violence and protesting.
The full blown war between the South and North Vietnam created a lot of suspicions of the Viet Cong. A very influential photograph that touched the hearts of the American people was the “Shooting of the VC” by Eddie Adams in 1968. The photo is of Nguyen Ngoc Loan, South Vietnam’s national Police Chief, executing a prisoner who was said to be a Viet Cong Captain. This incident occurred shortly after the Tet Offensive was launched. The Tet Offensive occurred on January 30, 1968, which was the first day of the Tet, otherwise known as the Vietnamese New Year. North Vietnam commenced widespread attacks all over South Vietnam. Suspicions of the Viet Cong hiding with civilians in the land became an all time paranoia in the South. Police Chief Loan saw the man in the photograph, realized he was a Viet Cong Captain, and captured him. Adams caught the direct moment of the General shooting the man in the head. Loan later reported that it was justice, because the Viet Cong man apparently killed many South Vietnamese people, including a colonel, his wife, and their six children. Loan received a lot of hostility, considering he killed the man without giving him a fair trial. The photo shows the pure anguish in the accused’s face; making people realize that this war was full of destruction, rather than glorious combat we hear in fairy tales. The harsh reality of battle was beginning to break the facade of what America thought was the war, to the true, ghastly existence of it.
One of the most dramatizing pictures of the Vietnam War had to be “Napalm Girl” shot by Nick Ut in 1972. It is a photograph of Kim Phuc, age nine, running towards a group of reporters after a South Vietnamese Air Force attacked her village with napalm. Napalm was a jellied gasoline that would stick to the vegetation and burn everything it touched. The photo shows Kim completely naked, from her clothes being burnt off, screaming, “Too hot! Too hot!”, “I’m dying! I’m dying!”, and “I need water, bring water!” The unedited version of the photo shows American soldiers completely ignoring the children and not expressing any sympathy or signs of helping. The photographer, Nick Ut, couldn’t help but feel compassion for the girl, and helped her by taking her to a nurse, and pouring water on her. Thirty percent of Kim’s body was scorched raw by third degree burns. Later in her life, she converted to Christianity and thanks the Lord for saving her whole family, besides her small cousins who died running away. She speaks of how she is very grateful for her brother being...

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