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The Photos

VIETNAM | Saturday, 23 November 2002 | Views [592]

The Photos

War Remnants Museum
Saigon, Viet Nam
October 1, 2002

A child runs in the street, her naked body ignored by everyone but the photographer.  Burning arms outstretched as if she would fly away if she could.  Face twisted in the cry only a lost child could create.

An American soldier stands in a field of tall grass, the image tainted by the tattered and shredded torso of a Viet Cong soldier he suspends at arm’s length.  The American soldier’s mouth is taut with a toughened, war-trodden look of revulsion and sadness.  The tilt of his head hides his eyes under the brim of his helmet, though tired shoulders reveal those unseen emotions.  The caption: “An American soldier laughs victoriously as he mutilates the body of a Liberation force soldier.”

A man lies on a table, black and bubbling burns cover his body.  Arms held away and slightly above his chest, one charred hand cocked stiffly, the other nonexistent, head bent back in agony… face burned away. 

Four American soldiers kneel around the severed heads of two Viet Cong soldiers and force half-smiles aimed at a Communist photographer.  The caption: “…all they want to do is fuck people over…like the lifer (E-6) in this picture.  He must really enjoy this shit…”

A child huddles on the ground, fists clenched in misery as melted skin slides over beautiful brown Vietnamese eyes.

A moving leg marked as a smear on film aims for the broken body in its path.  Bent on its side, hands covering the face, arms clenched together in a futile attempt at protection.

A caption: “3 million killed
4 million injured                  2 million affected by chemicals                  500,000 infants malformed                  170,000 old people get lonesome as their children were killed in the war.”

A child of 8 stands tall in braces supporting crippled feet and legs.  He will never walk properly.  He smiles.

The standard-issue helmet and blond scruff of beard frames a dirt-streaked face.  A cigarette sags lazily from dry lips in the manner of an old man, though tanned skin and sharp features reveal his youth. A handsome man pulled into a war he didn’t want, and pale eyes stare with the look of rheumatoid pain. 

Wendy Allen

Tags: vietnam, Writings (true or otherwise, poetry or prose)

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