tv Vietnam War and Photography CSPAN May 15, 2016 2:57pm-4:01pm EDT
that was great. mr. rather: thank you very much. mr arnett: it is a live audience. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> next, we will hear from pulitzer prize-winning photographers who were recognized for their work time work in vietnam. -- wartime work in vietnam. we will hear their stories behind the image and their impact on the american view of the the and not more.
the dean of the lbj school of public affairs moderates the discussion. this was part of a three-day discussion at the lbj presidential library in austin, texas called the "vietnam war summit." and is about one hour. welcome the chairman and ceo of mag rabbit. [applause] >> good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. we are going to meet to renowned whose pictures change the public sentiment toward the vietnam war. it is an honor for me to be here today. born and raised in vietnam.
i moved to the u.s. for college when i was 18. when i was about 14 years old, i remember the marines landing on the beach. the marines were very generous to everybody, even candy to inspiring hope for the future. there was truly the excitement for freedom and a marker see. from the many images war and from my hometown, but there were also some good memories and events which should not be overshadowed by the destruction of the war.
today, i live in austin with two sons born here and my wife. lucky. i'm the chairman of a global software company founded 25 years ago in austin. we have several offices. two offices that are dear to me -- i am personally so grateful for realized in the .ietnam war and for the united states of , who have afforded me to make the most of my life here in austin and this country. gentlemen, david hume kennerly has been shooting in
the frontlines for 50 years. he was one of the youngest winners of the pulitzer prize, which he won for capturing the loneliness and desolation of vietnam war. pontiff foro be a -- and personal photographer, serving in the white house throughout the administration. ennerly served as a contributing editor for newsweek and politico. and he served as the country beating photographer for time and life magazine. magazines names him one of the most important people in photography.
american,vietnamese he works as a photographer for the associate press for more than half a century. spent decades covering the vietnam war. beginning at the age of 16. prize the 1973 pulitzer for photography for the terror of war. his iconicember photograph of vietnamese , fleeing from napalm bombing during the vietnam war. it is also my pleasure to .ntroduce you to our moderator miss angela evans is the dean of the school of public affair at ut austin.
evans is also a former deputy director of the congressional regional service, and a fellow of the national publicee of administration. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our panelists. [applause] angela: we are so pleased you are here. this is how we are setting this up, obviously we have to do distinguished photojournalists. and many of us who lived through the vietnam war saw the war through their eyes and camera
lenses. they chose several photographs to be shown to the audience. --will take a vid costs owed we will take david's photographs first. we will ask him some questions. then we will turn to nick, he has chosen some photos to share with us and he will do the same thing -- and we will do the same thing. first let's start with david's photos.
he wanted to go to vietnam. i think we need background music here at some point, it made me nervous. [laughter] i have been a photographer's and i was a kid. i am a native oregonian. i grew up in a little town called roseburg. all i could remember was wanting to get out of that town, always place. over to the next my career took a pass from oregon to los angeles to new york to wasit shouldn't d.c. -- to washington dc. during the course of the vietnam war, when it started there was a brilliant photographer, larry burrows. i never met him, but he was an inspiration to me.
she did a story for life magazine that came out in 1965 -- he did a story for life magazine that came out in 1965. i was a senior in high school. , to this day was it is still with me. i do a lot of lectures on photography. i particularly like to tell the story about a young helicopter crew chief. in the first frame he has a smile, machine guns out to the helicopter. during the course of this allow someey vietnamese soldiers into the field and then one of their helicopters gets shot down . then they go and rescue the helicopter pilots from the other one, and the cover of the magazine was this guy and he was screaming. one of his colleagues was dead in the foreground.
but the picture that did it to me was the last frame, it was the same young guy bent over and crying alone in a hangar. in the ark of the story, -- in story, we were talking about the stories you didn't see. we were getting our life information -- we were getting our information from life magazine. dc, i was 23 years old, i had my first ride on air a upione when i was photographer at 23. thing, thekind of kind of job people want to get. they go to vietnam to do something like that when they get back. i felt like mr. robertson on a
supply ship in some backwater. ship andto be on that finally got the opportunity to do it. for me it was my generation's story. classmates from high school, people who i knew. i photographed them for the annual, they were killed in combat. they were army soldiers. finally finagling my way finagled my finally way into it. i didn't want to be one of those people who is making excuses about why he didn't go to vietnam. you hadit sounds like this passion. what surprised you when you got there? were there anything that
was different -- was there anything that was different when you got there? david: one of the worst days of my life was really -- i think --photographers they don't want to be there. right before i land i was all set to go. carrying larry and as -- larry burrows japanese photographer and kent potter. i was on my way to replace kent potter. a were killed.
-- they were killed. a lot of my friends had been over there and come back. i seriously thought that maybe i didn't want to do this. admitting being terrified. i finally came over that and got to saigon. the only part of the country i had been to other than that was the netherlands, which isn't exactly vietnam. it was so exciting for me. i must say the energy of saigon allgoing to the bureau,
these people who had been there and knowing that i was setting off on something that i couldn't have anticipated. i do remember within a week or so i was on a convoy going down the road and there was a dead person on the side of the road. this is something you weren't seeing in new york city. again i had this feeling of great fear. , didn't even take a picture but it was astonishing. those we are not in kansas anymore moments. but i pushed on. notve a real dedication only to my profession but to telling stories and taking pictures of things so other people can see them. people ask me why i'm on facebook.
facebook because i like people to see what i do, i like people to see what i see. that has been part of the drive of my career. angela: one of the things you talk about is as you start to get integrated into society and , one of the things i asked david in the back and he said, "this is going to be a touchy-feely question." you see some of the worst of humanity. how do you keep your eye focused on the story you want to tell without getting into deep despair? how did you do this? it's a good question. i think a lot of my friends, a lot of people in this room, willinly veterans -- and i say this, this whole idea of photographing wars is not about glorifying my profession so much
a showing what is happening to other people. and i think the ability to do that, the fact that i was in vietnam without somebody telling , ito go, i wasn't drafted did service to a degree in the national guard to get out of going to vietnam. then i have the most interesting story, i had to get out of -- when i got over there and experienced a lot of situations, a lot of close calls, i thought why i have been able to put it in the rearview mirror when other people can't. really it's lucky for me. i have a lot of friends in the military who have a lot more
problem with it. if you are in a situation you have to be there for 12, 13 months as a drafty, you had no choice about what was going to happen to you. you are also the one with the gun doing the shooting, and i risk --y wasn't as much wasn't at as much risk. i can't answer why. the only story that ever gave me nightmares was jonestown. i had the cover picture on time magazine of jonestown. horrible nightmares of it. i saw the dead body of jim jones rising to get me. it doesn't like me now, but i remember the nightmare. i have not had one bad dream
about fee at non-. a badher night i had dream about the north koreans dropping the statue of liberty on me. [laughter] that was weird. but generally my dreams aren't quite so substantial. haven't --n that i i'm incredibly sympathetic to people, my colleagues and certainly veterans. in my career i have met some people that have been two different wars, up to and including the recent conflict. i don't have an answer about why i didn't suffer from field affects. angela: there was a lot of controversy about the decision and support for the war. was there something in your mind about how your pictures may sway
someone and how they view the war? david: when i went to vietnam it was hard to figure. i was covering anti-lbj demonstrations. i remember when hubert come free -- when hubert humphrey came to florida -- he is only 10 years younger than i am. i didn't have a political dog in the hut on that one. i think it was because i was brought up in an old-fashioned way in the news business, where trying to be objective, we are not objective by nature. we all see things differently. but i didn't have a pro-war, antiwar feeling about it.
, ite it was a story directly impacted me, it was taken the lives of people i knew. my career has been based on curiosity. i wanted to see why, what was going on over there. by the time i got there it was already 1971, and eddie adams, our friend, the guy who took the famous picture of the general shooting the viet cong suspect, a person i admired but he was my competitor. leftld me just before i that all the good pictures had already been taken. [laughter] that's the kind of guy eddie was. won the pulitzer prize, something that i did not know i had been put up for.
award, ie no anxiety hadn't even given it a second thought. i had gotten all these cables in saigon. one of them was from eddie adams and he said, "i was wrong, congratulations." [laughter] affect -- i'ms hoping the pictures i take it is reallyess, one person's point of view. we do the best we can to honestly portray what is happening and people can make up their minds. photo of the children running down the road, that picture can be used on both , thisof the equation for
is what happens in war. i didn't look at it as a political tool as much as an informational vehicle. sometimes i think about your typical day, there isn't a typical day, but you go out and shoot pictures. which ones do you decide to send forward? and which ones do you decide to keep accurate go -- keep back? day was a week or two going into the field, -- my day was, a week or two going into the field someone asked me, what was the worst thing about vietnam? it ruined camping for me. [laughter] my kids still don't understand why don't want to go do that.
today where you can upload photographs of a battlefield. film, we wouldr try to get people to hand carry the filme down to saigon. -- film down to saigon. now the digital era has changed that, in a bad way i think. editors there is are being cut out of the mix. writing or taking pictures you really need a good editor. and a professional editor is somebody who is very helpful. we don't always agree with their choices. saigon ands went to the photos were big there and transmitted out.
say they remember when tv brought the war to the living room. the still photo is taken always triply to heart. in washingtonshow dc about the war and there are a lot of these famous pictures. people will stop and they are fixated by the photographs. you don't get the same thing out of moving pictures. of people don't remember, but eddie's picture of the execution, there was an nbc , he was there with eddie and has the film of the
head and shot in the nobody remembers it. it is brutal. i'm sure you don't want to see it. but the still picture, once you have seen it, is just embedded in your brain. that is why joe rosenthal's iwo jima photograph, i gave the , i havet joe's funeral known him since 1968, to me it is still the greatest photograph ever taken. ands there at the funeral eddie had already died. the last surviving member of the -- iwo jima was about a great moment in american history, the brave marines raising the flag
over mount -- in iwo jima. and then the underbelly, the dark side of the war, which is napalm girl and saigon execution. they are three of the most influential pictures ever taken. you can look at them anyway you want in terms of what they meant. did your photographs change over the time you were in the at non-? -- in the at non-? -- in vietnam? anytime you go somewhere for the first time, particularly going from the united states ,nto saigon and then vietnam every day was a new day. i think my pictures were actually better the first few months i was there, because i fell into what i call into the
hole.iarity whol of the hardest things is to overcome the familiarity of being in a situation day in and they out. and day out. you take pictures of something day but at every don't see. a professional photographer has to do that. i was much more engaged with it early on. i think my pictures have gotten better over the years. some people disagree with that. what i am more about doing as an artist, but what is a better way to tell the story.
my understanding is one of the reasons you got into photojournalism was your brother was a photojournalist, and he was killed in the war. you were 16 when you started this. this war was about your people, your country. tell us a little bit about what you saw, and your role in terms of photojournalism. nick: my brother took pictures in 1955. the viet cong killed all rangers. he killed my brother. -- for my the
here?d wise picture we can't use a picture of a naked girl. my picture of saigon, tokyo, new york. page one everywhere around the world. angela: there was a possibility of censorship, because they were looking at a nude girl, so there was a question. once they got over that it was on the new york times front page. it was a very influential picture in terms of the war. you felt aboutow actually taking photographs of your people. many of your photographs are about people and living in a war circumstance. can you tell us about that approach to the war? he took a lot of pictures every day.
much. black and white, color -- [indiscernible] i'm a short guide to. to -- short guy too. they take care of me very well. they were happy to allow for my picture. nicka: i'm going to ask and david one question and then we are going to open it up for the audience. after you make the transition out of vietnam, how did that transition help you do other i wouldn your life?
like you to share that story with the audience. david: when i came back from i was there for a little more than two years. i had come back after i won the pulitzer. i had been in vietnam for a year and a half before going to the states. all i wanted to do was turn around and come back. . was not comfortable it was as if the war wasn't going on. kept looking around, why weren't people more concerned about this? it was really uncomfortable for me. the only people who had empathy for what i was going through, that was it.
and -- i went back. down -- as the war bind the war wind down, i came back and one thing led to another. i became president ford wash white house photographer. ford's white house photographer. trip to see if there was anything that could be done to try to stem the tide of advancing north vietnamese. starting to move south. individually i went through several places.
air america flew me there. the place was totally surrounded. couldn't get in until you had a special aircraft. he said he would take me over there. next time i'm going first class. i saw what was happening and the president wanted another point of view. strangely there are two high-ranking ca agents or executives on the plane. officer at the time. almost to the nth
degree a straight scoop about what was going on. i'm not condemning the military. when i gotpresident back that i thought my estimation for my worldly was in vietnam. i was always careful about that. he quoted me as saying, mr. president vietnam has only got three or four weeks left and anybody who tells you differently is bullshitting you. people thinking they could perhaps contain it and all that. talked about was i was in the room when the president made the decision to end the war in vietnam.
in the roosevelt room under a portrait of teddy roosevelt, one of the most active u.s. presidents ever. and the picture that sticks with me on that is the director of the cia, the deputy secretary, , nelsonetary of defense rockefeller, the president and me taking pictures. nobody was saying anything. and then it went through the next 30 hours or so. kissinger went out and announced that the withdrawal was a success. and then went back and got a that said there are 25
american marines on the embassy rooftop who had been brought out. there were some really interesting photographs for that moment. he had to go and correct that one. someone who had been in vietnam as a photographer, vietnamese friends were asking to take their kids out. it was really emotionally difficult. president werehe the photographs i took of , andees, of wounded people i put the photographs that replaces all of those photos in the west wing of state dinners with these bleak black and white photographs.
the president heard about that. he got incredibly angry and said you have to put those pictures backup. i want everybody in this building to know what is going on out there. when i showed him what was going don't think anybody has made a report to the president united states like , that he really saw what was happening with the vietnamese people. people told me he was so moved by it that he continued to see to it that more vietnamese were evacuated. at refugees and this
phobia of refugees coming to this country, it makes me sick. [applause] because the vietnamese community -- community has been one of the strongest elements of american society. i both live in california. it is vibrant. phd, i worked for nasa. was involved with the mars rover program, on and on and on. really happy i had some minor role to play in that. angela: how about you? how did you make the transition out to where you are today? had myefore saigon i story about -- everywhere.
sir? -- hat picture, is that yes. >> you mentioned several iconic pictures and how they were interpreted. particularly the reputation of general -- oryou have any comments opinions on how your pictures ended up? unlike the written journalists we talked to, you had no control over how people look at your pictures? what is the exact question? unlike the journalist in print, you had little control about how people viewed and used your pictures. feelings -- for example, in the picture of the
napalm girl, you had people confessing to be responsible for that happening when they were nowhere near the events. david: i think the beauty of photography is everybody can make up their own mind about it. we take the pictures and put them out. nick took the photograph because it was happening. it wasn't to make a political point. that picture was a bit , but oursial certainly pictures can agitate, get people emotional about it and say whatever they want. i hadn't intended to cast any aspersions on your work. david: no, we didn't get that. it was a good question.
thank you. forhank you very much coming here today. , am a phd journalist here working on a dissertation about photojournalism. my question for both of you is tied in with what i'm intrigued with, the comparison of being the reporter with the camera and the artist with the camera, how much are you conscious of the composition? here you are in a war circumstance and it is happening all around you. and you go to raise that camera in front of you. what are you trying to isolate if that is something that comes into your mind? david: that is why god created cropping. i think both the nick and i, we are just happy to get something in there we can deal with later. me it is really important if
you can do it. the rare case where a picture is framed perfectly like the girl running down the road. is that what you are talking about, how you see it artistically area and artistic is not a word that goes through my mind usually. >> [inaudible] a goes back to what i said earlier, -- it goes back to what
i said earlier, nick and i are it goesonal -- david: back to what i said earlier, nick and i are professional photographers. it is our job to show you something that we saw, it is that simple. every now and then. sometimes not always the right story. >> thank you for coming today, it is quite fascinating. wereyou were in country, there any areas you were specifically for bidden to go to , or specifically told you should not? or were there any subjects are areas you felt were off-limits?
david: i know we are talking about the coverups on the government side. incredibly military helpful. hitch a ride on a chopper. if you were stupid enough or excited enough to get in on the action, you could get there. i never had one instance where i wasn't able to go where i wanted to go, see what i wanted to see. the profound experiences got over thewhen i shock of seeing somebody that didn't have to be there showing up and questioning our intelligence, i'm sure they were happy knowing there was someone there to tell their story. good almost 100% really
the government. that didn't extend to what reporters or the breaking's that were going on in washington. and it was the last time. ,his has not happened since where we just have a free hand to go where we wanted to go. if you had the wherewithal to get in there somewhere, and usually photographers go to where the action was, you could do it. did you ever have an instance where people kept you out? nick: they helped me a lot. we had the military and media path. [indiscernible]
the marine and army, they are welcome. i didn't have trouble. if it banged the trouble was when you got there. getting there wasn't the problem. nick: today, more difficult. -- fghanistan i don't think the media has more freedom. angela: we have time for one more question. -- wassn't clear that unclear what happened to the young girl that was so badly burned. did she survive? nick: she is still alive today, she is 54. she lives in toronto canada.
she occasionally comes in. she is married and has two children. she has traveled everywhere in america to talk about her picture. angela: and she is still suffering from those burns, she has great pain from the burns. it has been a privilege to be on the stage with you all. announcements. or can come up afterwards haps and ask. because what we are going to be doing is going to be a ceremony for vietnam sets. if there are any vets in the audience, -- i would like to recognize the vietnam vets if they are in the audience. could you please stand so we can celebrate you? [applause]
>> with american history tv, it gives you that perspective. >> i am a c-span fan. >> congratulations to the class of 2016. today is your day of celebration and you have earned it. your choices will make all the difference to you and to all of us. afraid to take on a new job or new issue that really stretches your >> and the specter of living in your parents basement is not likely to be your greatest concern. >> watch commencement speeches to the class of 2016 from colleges and universities around the country.
on c-span. >> secretary of state john kerry served in the vietnam war as a u.s. navy swift boat commander, receiving a silver star, bronze star, and three purple hearts. .e shared his views on the war here's a preview. >> securing a short pass to get to theon and coming up delta. on top of the hotel in a momentary pause from the at night, looking out watching these flares popping all around the city. in the distance hearing bursts
of gunfire and the occasional roar of the c-130 flying by and the burp of what we called tough the magic dragon. sorts butoasis of still the very essence of a war zone. rooftop, butame completely different view. the traffic circle outside is filled with motorbikes, teaming with passengers and every form of commerce from chicken coops to air conditioners. nobody is thinking about the war. the majority are too young to remember it. it is a different era and that calls for a different relationship. no one could have possibly imagined the general secretary's visit last year, or president
obama's land visit to vietnam. no one could have imagined the broad bilateral agenda we have developed, including health, high-tech, the internet, and military to military cooperation. and no one could military cooperation. one could have imagined united states and vietnam joining with 10 other nations to achieve a priceless opportunity on trade. a transpacific partnership agreement that represents 40% of the world's gdp. it will create jobs and enhance the environment to strengthen commercial ties from hanoi to tokyo, santiago to washington. >> you can watch the entire event sunday. tv, is american history