|Poet and playright Federico Garcia Lorca's statue in Plaza de Santa Ana in Madrid.Image by Stefan van Drake.|
Bangkok-based photo-journalist, editor and writer Lance Woodruff (Macalester College Class of 1964) posts this contribution as an artist, friend and long-time veteran war and Southeast Asian correspondent, and now as self-assessed 'veteran of the war.'
By Lance Woodruff
In San Francisco in 1986, nearly 20 years after leaving Vietnam in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive, I learned and finally accepted that I was a veteran of the war.
I admired Hungarian photojournalist Robert Capa who had died in northern Vietnam in May 1954. As an 11-year-old schoolboy in Ohio I listened to radio broadcasts of the siege of Dienbienphu in my grade six classroom and believed that civilization would essentially come to an end if 'the Viets’ were victorious over the French.
I thought that I would document war and its aftermath, walking around the edge of battlefields after the shooting was over, and that I would describe it, photograph and publish it, and then we would all stop doing these things to each other. I would write the great American novel. I imagined that war could be solved.
I simply understood that I would die. Repeated dives against three anti-aircraft positions plus soldiers on the ground shooting at my aircraft filled the air with tracers. I shot back with my cameras, blindly.
On that flight I carried two items, a small leather bound King James Version of the Bible and a typed copy of ‘Monte de El Pardo’ by Spanish poet Rafael Alberti.
One example comes to mind, Phung thi Le Ly, a peasant child in Quang Nam, was born a sickly two pounds—so small that her midwife wanted to kill her immediately
Her mother refused to follow traditional wisdom regarding "runts," and the infant survived, earning the nickname "Con Troi Nuoi", child nourished by God.
Rock on and practice peace and love. Also, see ArtTraveler's videos on YouTube.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)