The story of today’s iconic photograph was not supposed to appear on my website today. I had planned another day for this photograph. There is another photograph that I wanted to publish today but while writing about it I got caught in a dilemma. Actually, the subject of that picture is a common man. The photograph gave him a lot uninvited attention from media and everyone began to recognize him. As a result, the life of this poor fellow became miserable. So, now I am thinking as to bring this photograph up or not. By the way, can you guess which photograph I am talking about?!… Let me know if you can guess! That was the reason I postponed the said photograph.
Now, let’s talk about today’s photo Execution of Nguyen Van Lem. I had not seen this famous photograph until a few days ago when my friend Rajshree ji told me about it. Therefore, a big thanks to her for introducing to this horrible but nevertheless iconic photograph.
This photo was taken by Eddie Adams on February 1, 1968. Eddie was working with the Associated Press when he was sent to Vietnam to cover the ongoing war. In Vietnam, he took this photograph barely a second before General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan shot Nguyễn Văn Lém dead from point blank range. Loan (the shooter) was the Chief of National Police of Republic of Vietnam. Lém (the prisoner) was a Viet Cong officer. Viet Cong was a group of guerrilla fighters of communist ideology which were fighting against the Republic of Vietnam and the US forces.
The prisoner was brought to the General and the General summarily executed him in front of Eddie’s camera as well as an NBC TV cameraman who made the footage of the incident. But it was Eddie’s image which became world famous and the face of anti-war movement. Eddie Adams won a 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography.
The footage by the NBC television cameraman Vo Suu is still available and is given below. In this video, Eddie Adams also talks about his photograph. Please watch this video at YOUR OWN DISCRETION. Some of the content could be disturbing.
What do you think of this photograph and the story behind it? Please comment and give your feedback as it helps me in writing better content for my readers. Thank you for reading and stay connected with my website as I will continue to bring stories on more iconic photographs for you.