Behind the camera: AP Images Where: Steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Photo Summary: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Picture Taken: August 28, 1963
I have a dream!
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I Have a Dream” is the name given to the August 28, 1963, historic public speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he spoke of his desire for a future where blacks and whites would coexist harmoniously as equals (I Have a Dream). The speech is seen as his crowning moment and one of the most Iconic moments of that time. The speech is often ranked as one of the greatest 20th-century speeches in America. Footage and pictures of the speech are still famous and the clip is used in movies and on TV to represent the civil rights movement in the ’60s.
Taking the photo
G.Marshall Wilson started the day with 6:00 AM walking through the crowds with four 35mm cameras. The cameras, film and other equipment weighed 38 lbs but that didn’t slow down Wilson. Around noon he had wandered over to the speaker’s platform in front of the Lincoln Memorial and climbed to the top of the elevated cameramen’s stand. Seeing the crowd spread out he had an idea for a photo. Walking back down he talked with King and his entourage and King always on the lookout for iconic photos jumped at the chance for a front page photo. Climbing to the top of the cameramen’s stand Wilson took a number of shots of King waving to the crowd. Space was limited so Wilson used a 24mm wide-angle lens on his 35mm camera.
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
The federal government had for years tried half-heartedly to pass some kind of civil rights bill that would grant equality to all Americans. It wasn’t until President John F. Kennedy tried to pass his bill on June 11, 1963, that a real attempt to give Blacks civil rights was undertaken. The bill was quickly blocked by southern representatives in Congress.
It was under this atmosphere that leaders from the civil rights movement planned a march to Washington to build political momentum behind the measure. Proposed by A. Philip Randolph and organized by him, Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr. the march saw a joining of multiple parties who often were in disagreement. At first, the Kennedy Whitehouse was against the march as it might turn violent and hurt the passage of the bill. The organizers agreed to tone down the rhetoric and keep the more militant organizations in check but refused to cancel the march. Once he saw that he couldn’t stop it Kennedy supported the march but because of the concessions organizers gave Kennedy many prominent Black leaders were against it. Malcolm X called it the “Farce on Washington” and the Nation of Islam punished any members who attended.
Stay home. This will not be safe
Before the march there was an atmosphere and fear of potential violence, on one side Southern congressmen told their white female employees, “Stay home. This will not be safe.” and on the other, there was a fear that not enough people would show to show how much the public supported the goals of the march. These fears proved unfounded as almost a quarter of million people came to hear the speeches given that day, the largest demonstration in America at that point in time. Amongst the speakers were Martin Luther King Jr and many others who each got 15min to speak or perform. The speakers included SNCC leader John Lewis, civil rights figures such as Gordon Parks and Roy Wilkins, labor leaders such as Walter Reuther, clergy including Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle (the Archbishop of Washington, who made the invocation), Rabbi Uri Miller (President of the Synagogue Council of America) who gave the prayer, remarks by Rabbi Joachim Prinz (President of the American Jewish Congress), Archbishop Iakovos primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, author James Baldwin, film stars such as Charlton Heston, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and Marlon Brando, nightclub stars Josephine Baker and Eartha Kitt, and singers such as Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan (who performed after King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, as seen in the film No Direction Home)
Legend holds that King departed from his prepared text and began preaching on the fly, but he had delivered a similar speech incorporating some of the same sections in Detroit in June 1963, when he marched on Woodward Avenue with Walter Reuther and the Rev. C.L. Franklin. He had rehearsed other parts before the march.
Because King distributed copies of the speech at its performance, there was controversy regarding the speech’s copyright status for some time. This led to a lawsuit, Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS, Inc., which established that the King estate does hold copyright over the speech and had the standing to sue; the parties then settled. Unlicensed use of the speech or a part of it can still be lawful in some circumstances under the doctrine of fair use.
Behind the camera: Iraqi State TV Where: Baghdad, Iraq Photo Summary: Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein surrounded by aides from both parties. Picture Taken: Dec 20, 1983
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee
America has had a love-hate relationship with Iraq. After the Iranian revolution, Iraq became America’s best friend in the Persian Gulf. That all changed after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991. When this video was first released, in 1983, it quietly slid into oblivion. As government “Hawks” used Weapons of Mass destruction (WMDs) as reasons to overthrow his government the footage saw a resurgence in popularity. Critics like to use the video to illustrate how Donald Rumsfeld was shaking hands with Saddam in 1983, even though government intelligence knew he was using WMDs against Iran and his own people. The argument being: why is America taking the moral stance now when as shown by this video the American government had no problems with him using WMDs and selling him the means to make more.
America Backs Iraq
When the Iraq-Iran War broke out in September 1980 it was American policy to let the two nations fight it out. America had turned anti-Iran since the Iranian revolution and its hostage crisis. America had no love for Saddam in Iraq either, at the time he was part of the Soviet sphere of influence and backed terrorist attacks against the US’s close ally, Israel.
This all changed when Iran started to make significant gains in the war. President Ronald Reagan saw disaster if Iran’s revolutionary government overran Iraq and so Reagan created the National Security Decision Directive 114 on Nov. 26, 1983. This directive changed US policy from neutral observer to active supplier of military supplies, battlefield intelligence, and most controversially, the dual-use technology that allowed Saddam to create WMDs. Howard Teicher, who served on Reagan’s National Security Council described in sworn statements how, “CIA Director Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition, and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war,”
Special Envoy Rumsfeld
During his period as Reagan’s Special Envoy to the Middle East (November 1983 – May 1984), Rumsfeld was the main conduit for crucial American military intelligence, hardware and strategic advice to Saddam Hussein, while Iraq was fighting Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. His first visit was when this footage was taken, from December 19 – December 20, 1983. He and Saddam Hussein had a 90-minute discussion that covered Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, preventing Syrian and Iranian expansion, preventing arms sales to Iran by foreign countries, and increasing Iraqi oil production via a possible new oil pipeline across Jordan (Syria had shut down a Syrian-Iraqi pipeline).
Later Rumsfeld would try and claim that in his “head to head” meeting with Saddam he brought up Saddam’s use of Chemical weapons on the battlefield. However, it was later revealed that Rumsfeld didn’t discuss the issue with Saddam but instead brought it up at a later meeting with Tariq Aziz (Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister) in passing as part of a list of issues that “inhibited” US assistance.
Republican Presidential nomination
In 1988 when Rumsfeld made a short-lived run for President the campaign was quoted as saying that one of his great achievements while in office was to “reopen U.S. relations with Iraq.” Even though by 1988 Iraq had been actively using chemical weapons against Iran and even his own people for years.
Rumsfeld didn’t come empty-handed on his trips to Iraq bringing a wide range of gifts from the Reagan administration including pistols, medieval spiked hammers even a pair of golden cowboy spurs. These were all displayed in at Saddam’s Victory Museum in Baghdad, which held all the gifts bestowed on Saddam by world leaders.
Behind the camera: Press Pool Where: Flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln which was 30 miles from the coast of California Photo Summary: George W. Bush giving his famous speech announcing the end of ‘major combat operations’ in the 2003 War on Iraq. Picture Taken: May 1, 2003
In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed
-President Bush in his speech under the banner
On May 1, 2003 George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln a Lockheed S-3 Viking (Navy One had been painted on the side), where he gave a speech announcing the end of major combat operations in the War on Iraq. Clearly visible in the background was a banner stating “Mission Accomplished.” Bush critics pointed to the seemingly premature declaration the war over as evidence of the arrogance and lack of planning in the Iraq War. The mission was in fact just beginning as major combat operations hadn’t ended American military casualties. After the speech casualties grew and eventually exceeded those killed before the speech. The controversy surrounding the speech and the banner in the background made video clips and pictures of the speech famous.
Where Did The Banner Come From?
As criticism mounted the White House who had in the Lincoln speech and other press releases implied that the war was over, backpedalled stating that they didn’t mean to imply that the Iraq War was over and that the Navy had, in fact, put the banner up for a totally different reason. As Navy Commander and Pentagon spokesman Conrad Chun put it, the banner referred specifically to the aircraft carrier’s 10-month deployment (which was the longest deployment of a carrier since the Vietnam War) and not the war itself “It truly did signify a mission accomplished for the crew.”
The White House claimed that the banner was requested by the crew of the ship. Afterwards, the administration and naval sources stated that the banner was the Navy’s idea, White House staff members made the banner, and it was hung by U.S. Navy personnel. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told CNN “We took care of the production of it. We have people to do those things. But the Navy actually put it up.” The White House when further pressed by TIME magazine was forced to admit that they made the banner and hung it up but still clung to the line that it had been done at the request of the crew members.
The event was criticized by many as premature — especially later as the guerrilla war began to take its toll. Subsequently, the White House released a statement saying that the sign and Bush’s visit referred to the initial invasion of Iraq. Bush’s speech noted:
“We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous.” However, the speech also said that “In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
President Bush after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. He made the landing with a pilot, a secret service agent and a reserve pilot.
For critics of the war, the photo-op became a symbol of the administration’s unrealistic goals and perceptions of the conflict. Anti-war activists questioned the integrity and realism of George W. Bush’s “Major combat” statement. The banner came to symbolize the irony of the President giving a victory speech only a few weeks after the beginning of a relatively long war. Many in the administration came to regret the slogan. Some even going so far as to edit the White House website’s official video of the speech that Bush made on the aircraft carrier, cropping the video to conceal the “Mission Accomplished” banner.
The Jet Landing
Before the speech, Bush made a historic jet landing on the carrier, the first by a sitting president. While the president was a former pilot in the National Guard he did not land the plane, leaving the dangerous carrier landing to Navy Cmdr. John Lussier. At the time it was criticized by opponents as an overly theatrical and expensive stunt. For instance, they pointed to the fact that the carrier was well within the range of Bush’s helicopter, and that a jet landing was not needed. Originally the White House had stated that the carrier was too far off the California coast for a helicopter landing and a jet would be needed to reach it. It was later revealed that on the day of the speech, the Lincoln was only 30 miles from shore but the administration still decided to go ahead with the jet landing. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer admitted that the president “could have helicoptered, but the plan was already in place. Plus, he wanted to see a landing the way aviators see a landing.” The Lincoln waited offshore while the President slept before it returned to its home base in Everett, Washington on May 6, 2003.
Behind the camera: Abraham Zapruder Where: Elm Street, Dallas Texas, USA Photo Summary: John F Kennedy after he is shot. Jackie Kennedy climbed onto the trunk in an effort to grab a piece of John’s skull. Agent Hill seen jumping onto the back of the car later testified that she said, ‘I have a piece of his brain in my hand.’ Picture Taken: November 22, 1963
On November 22, 1963, the nation was in shock as news spread throughout the country, someone had shot the president; someone had shot John F Kennedy. While Americans prayed and hoped that Kennedy could pull through, Abraham Zapruder who had filmed the bullets slamming into JFK’s skull had no such false hopes, “…I saw his head explode like a firecracker. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. There’s no way he could still be alive.”
Just like any day
Map of President's parade route
People woke on Nov 22 with no idea of the anguish that would play out that day. Abraham Zapruder had woken disappointed that the weather was cloudy and overcast. JFK was going to be doing one of his motorcade parades through Dallas and he had wanted to film the parade. He had bought the top of the line Model 414 PD Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series Camera, Serial number AS13486; with Varamat 9 to 27mm F1.8 lens the year before. For its day it was quite a piece of technology with an electric eye, spring wind indicator, and varying speeds of 1, 16 and 48. The camera used 8mm film with 25 feet being able to be shot at a time.
Abraham Zapruder worked at his Jennifer Juniors, Inc. which made women’s clothing. In 1963 the company operated out of 4th and 5th floors of the Dal-Tex Building at 501 Elm close to where the president’s motorcade was to pass that day. He arrived without his camera but an office worker, Lilian Rodgers, convinced him to go back home and get it because the weather had cleared up and it looked to be a beautiful day.
Taking the picture
To get a better view of the passing President, Abraham Zapruder headed down to the parade route with another one of his employees, Marilyn Sitzman. He shot some footage to make sure the camera was working properly and noticed that he would have a better vantage point if he got on top of a concrete block located on the now infamous grassy knoll. Once up Zapruder’s vertigo kicked in and he asked Marilyn to come with him in case he started to get dizzy while filming. While waiting for the president to come he and Marilyn are photographed by a number of journalists and amateur cameramen also waiting for the president.
At the Warren Commission Zapruder recounted what happened next:
I started shooting–when the motorcade started coming in, I believe I started and wanted to get it coming in from Houston Street… Well, as the car came in line almost–I believe it was almost in line. I was standing up [on the concrete block] and I was shooting through a telephoto lens, which is a zoom lens and … I heard the first shot and I saw the President lean over and grab himself like this [Zapruder holds his left chest area]… For a moment I thought it was, you know, like you say, “Oh, he got me,” … I [didn’t] believe the President is going to make jokes like this, but before I had a chance to organize my mind, I heard a second shot and then I saw his head opened up and the blood and everything came out and I started–I can hardly talk about it [Zapruder breaks down crying] … I thought I heard two [shots], it could be three because to my estimation I thought he was hit on the second–I really don’t know. … I never even heard a third shot … after the second shot … I started yelling, “They killed him, they killed him,” and I just felt that somebody had ganged up on him and I was still shooting the pictures until he got under the underpass–I don’t even know how I did it.
And then, I didn’t even remember how I got down from that abutment there, but there I was, I guess, and I was walking toward–back toward my office and screaming, “They killed him, they killed him,” and the people that I met on the way didn’t even know what happened and they kept yelling, “What happened, what happened, what happened?” It seemed that they had heard a shot but they didn’t know exactly what had happened as the car sped away, and I kept on just yelling, “They killed him, they killed him, they killed him…
Desperate to Develop
Harry McCormick, Dallas Morning News reporter, arrived soon after the shooting and after talking to those milling around quickly determined that because of his location Zapruder would have filmed the whole thing from a great vantage point. McCormick tracked him down and tried to talk to him but Zapruder said that he would only talk to federal investigators. McCormick knowing the scoop he would have if he could get the footage, set off to find an agent so that he would be able to pitch buying the film from Zapruder again.
McCormack was able to make contact with Agent-in-Charge of the Dallas Secret Service field office, Forrest Sorrels. An emotional Zapruder quickly agreed to supply agent Sorrels with a copy of his footage to help the investigation but got a promise from Sorrels that it only be used for investigation purposes and not shown to any media. McCormick again offered to pay for the footage but Zapruder turned him down already thinking that he could get a higher price.
Then McCormick, Sorrels, Zapruder, and Erwin Schwartz, Zapruder’s business partner went to the ABC affiliate, WFAA-TV station in hopes they could develop and copy the film. WFAA-TV couldn’t process the film and missed probably the scoop of the century but was able to get Zapruder to do a live on-air interview about what he saw at 2:10 pm less than 2 hours after the shooting.
Developing at the Kodak Lab
Bert Schipp, the chief photographer at WFAA-TV, called a Kodak lab and made sure they could process Zapruder’s film. By this time a Dallas police car had been arranged and it escorted the trio of Zapruder, Schwartz, and Sorrels to the Kodak lab. Phil Chamberlain a lab technician met them on their arrival and they quickly processed the film, with Zapruder looking on. The original was labelled with the number 0183 by lab tech Kathryn Kirby. Zapruder and staff viewed it once and seeing the importance of the footage decided not to view it again until copies where made.
Went forward with considerable violence
-Dan Rather commenting on Kennedy’s head but failing to mention the famous backward motion
Since the Kodak lab didn’t have means to copy the film Zapruder was directed to go to Jamieson Films in Dallas. There he made three unprocessed copies and returned to the Kodak Lab to get them developed. The copies were given lab ID numbers 0185, 0186 and 0187. The footage was only 26 seconds long, with 486 individual frames, filmed at 18.3 frames per second. The original was split into 8mm and viewed by Zapruder, and a number of lab technicians present. They watched in silence with a collective gasp when the bullet struck Kennedy’s head.
Agent Sorrels had left earlier when he heard that Oswald had been arrested but Zapruder was able to track him down around 10:00 pm and handed over two copies of the film. Secret Service Agent Max Phillips in Dallas shipped one of the copies to Secret Service Chief Rowley in Washington, D.C. with the note, “Mr. Zapruder is in custody of the ‘master’ film.” The other is handed over to the FBI who also ships it to Washington to be copied.
Earlier in the day, Richard Stolley from LIFE magazine had arrived from LA. He was on a plane as soon as he heard of the attempt on the president’s life. Setting up at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas he learns from LIFE stringer reporter, Patsy Swank, that footage of the assassination exists and was in Zapruder’s possession. Stolley immediately started calling the Zapruder house in 15min intervals.
After handing over the two copies to the secret service at around 10:00 pm Zapruder drives around aimlessly trying to absorb the day’s events and arrived home at 11:00 pm. It was at this time Richard Stolley called and tried to set up a viewing of the film. Zapruder, tired, was able to put off the viewing until the next day and set up a 9:00 am meeting at his Jennifer Juniors office.
Richard Stolley arrived an hour early and was joined by a number of Secret Service agents who wanted to see the film as theirs were shipped off to Washington to be copied. With Zapruder manning the projector the small crowd watched the film, replaying it as more reporters arrive. Stolley seeing that he had to work fast before others got the film was able to convince Zapruder to sell the print rights for $50,000. Stolley left with the original and quickly sends it to Chicago where the LIFE editorial staff was gathered to prepare the new November 26th edition. The original edition was stopped in the presses when news of the assassination reached Chicago. Managing editor George Hunt ordered the move costing LIFE almost a million dollars. Publisher Henry Luce who was initially outraged at the cost said later it was the best million he had ever spent.
While making copies of the film and preparing black and white shots for the new LIFE magazine photo technicians damaged some of the frames the original footage, slicing it in two places.
Life seeks to Suppress
Obtain all rights to the film and withhold it from public viewing
-LIFE executive C.D Jackson
A copy was sent to NY where LIFE executive C.D Jackson was so disturbed by the footage he ordered Stolley to return to Zapruder and get full rights to the film. In 1973 Stolley would recount: C.D. Jackson “was so upset by the head-wound sequence that he proposed the company obtain all rights to the film and withhold it from public viewing at least until emotions had calmed.” He later changed his story in 1992, “All decisions regarding the use or non-use of the Zapruder film were made by LIFE’s editors, not by anyone on the publishing side”
This stoked the conspiracy researchers, as C.D. Jackson was a former member of the US military intelligence. Many claim the Zapruder film to be altered in some way to cover up evidence of other shooters and the President’s limo stopping. They point to strange anomalies in the footage and that LIFE tried for such a long time to stop anyone from viewing the footage. However, Zapruder’s film wasn’t the only shoot of the assassination, with at least seven others present at the time filming. The two other publicly released films confirm the events of Nov 22 and that the anomalies can easily be explained by film limitation of the camera’s available in the 60’s. Even though LIFE executives tried to stop the public from seeing the film they themselves ordered copies for private showings.
Stolley returned to Zapruder and was able to purchase all rights for the footage for $150,000 to be made in six annual payments of $25,000. The first $25,000 payment Zapruder donated to the family of murdered Dallas Policeman J.D. Tippit. Oswald had shot Tippit just prior to being arrested. Zapruder gave the impression to the media that the $25,000 was the price LIFE magazine bought his footage for and not just the first installment.
Young Dan Rather
A young Dan Rather was able to see the Zapruder footage and later narrated the film to CBS national television coverage, claiming that he saw the President’s head “went forward with considerable violence.” He failed to mention the backward motion made famous in the Oliver Stone movie, JFK. His omission seemed to confirm that the single shooter theory with just Oswald firing from the rear. When the Zapruder film became public, he was forced to apologize saying it was “an honest error.”
The Groden copies
In government circles, copies of the film circulated often copies of copies sometimes many generations old. When the Warren Commission studied the film the next year they had difficulties with the quality and clarity of the prints. In Feb 1964, LIFE lab assistant Herbert Orth brought the original film to a meeting of government officials and volunteered to make slides of all the frames. The original was sent out to a New Jersey photo lab where photo lab technician Robert Groden made a bootleg copy. He also was able to remove the amateur shakiness of the original by re-framing it. This improved version was far superior to the copies the government held but he placed it in a bank vault out of fear he would be arrested for making a bootleg copy.
After the Warren Commission finished its report, footage and slides were entered into the National archives. Requests to get LIFE to release footage by private researchers and other media outlets are denied. It wasn’t until 1969 that Jim Garrison subpoenaed LIFE for his trial of Clay Shaw (later made famous in the movie, JFK) that the public saw the movie. Lax security at the trial allowed the film to be copied and bootleg’s started to circulate around the country. At the same trial Zapruder is called to testify, the next year on Aug 30, 1970, Abraham Zapruder died of carcinoma in Dallas.
In 1975 Groden started to show his enhanced version of the Zapruder film. In March 1975 Geraldo Rivera on his show Goodnight America convinced ABC executives to show Groden’s film. This was the first time most in America have seen the backward motion of Kennedy’s head and it caused a sensation. Feeding off the public outcry congressman Thomas Downing and others introduce a resolution in Congress that would later lead to the creation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, HSCA. The committee went on to investigate the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr concluding that both murders were the result of a conspiracy.
Life sells the Film
A New Look at the Zapruder Film
-The tag line for the new DVD released by the Zapruder family
The increased publicity of the film and public outcry at LIFE for refusing to allow anyone to view the originals forced TIME-LIFE to sell the film and rights to the footage to the family for the symbolic amount of $1. The original and other material that TIME-LIFE owns is handed over to the National Archives with limited access. The family allowed anyone to study the film but if it was used for commercial purposes they are charged a fee. Disputes between the Zapruder family and those wanting to use the footage increase with several lawsuits being filled. The pressure was increased when lawsuits arguing that because of the importance of the footage, a national treasure, that no one should own the rights.
The film hits the markets
In 1991, the Zapruder family tried to sell video copies of the footage. This was quickly halted by legal action. In 1997, the film footage and related slides, copies, transparencies are made “assassination documents” under the JFK Act. Disagreement over how much the Zapruder family is to be paid for the material dragged on until 2000. The government valued the material, as worth 1.4 million dollars but the family wanted $30,000,000. Finally, in 1999 an arbitration board ruled the value to be $16 million dollars. This does not include the copyright of the film, which is retained by the family, which they use to distribute a DVD called Image of an assassination. The DVD costs $20 a copy and is 45min film long. Image of an assassination claims to be, “A New Look at the Zapruder Film” and offers more information and a highly improved version of the footage.
Donation to the Sixth Floor Museum
In 2000 the Zapruder family donated their collection of Zapruder film material to the Sixth Floor Museum in what used to be the Texas School Book Depository building. In addition to the following material the family also handed over the film rights to the Museum.
Among the items handed over by the Zapruder family were:
The only privately held first day, first-generation print of the Zapruder film.
Numerous film copies—in a variety of formats including 8mm, 16 mm, and 35 mm. Some in full color and some in black and white. These copy prints and negatives of the Zapruder film were apparently utilized by Time-Life for publication layout and internally for reference.
Two complete sets of 4×5 color transparencies–these are LIFE 1st generation copies of each frame of the original film as they existed in 1963/1964 before any fading and damage appeared.
8×10 glossy color prints of Zapruder film frames—these are LIFE prints of each frame. Again, they show each frame as they existed in 1963/1964 before any fading and damage appeared.
The original is still owned by the American government and presently in the Kennedy Collection at the National Archives at College Park. The National Archives allows copies to be made for personal use but to publish in any other way requires permission from the copyright holders, the Sixth Floor Museum.
Behind the camera: Steve McCurry Where: Nasir Bagh refugee camp just outside Afghanistan on the Pakistan border Photo Summary: Sharbat Gula looking at the camera Picture Taken: Steve states that he meet her two years before the 1985 cover but then in 2003 says that he took the picture in 1984
Debra Denker and photographer Steve McCurry were covering the war in Afghanistan in the ’80s as Afghan Mujaheddin (“holy warriors”) fought the USSR’s Soviet army. After sneaking into Afghanistan to witness the ongoing war, they also visited the sprawling refugee camps along the Afghan-Pakistan border. In this conservative Muslim environment, Steve found it extremely difficult to talk to women who are not relatives, let alone get permission to photograph them. However, he was very determined to get a picture to have a visual representation of the Afghan refugee crisis from a female point of view.
I was kind of walking through the refugee camp one morning and I happened across a tent. Which was being used as an elementary school and there were about 15 to 20 students in a Pakistani structure.
So I went and asked the teacher if I could, umm you know photograph some of the students, if I could stay there for a while and she agreed and I noticed this one student, one young Afghan girl about 12 who had this very kind of haunted look in her eye and I asked the teacher about her and she told me her story, that she had to walk for about 2 weeks through the mountains of Afghanistan because her village had been ahh helicoptered, you know attacked by helicopter gunships and that umm that many of her family members had been killed and so they had this perilous trip through the mountains to get to this refugee camp and she was real traumatized and kind of freaked out as you can imagine. A 12 year old first she is in a village and then suddenly in another country…
So I think this particular portrait kind of summed up for me the trauma and the plight and the whole situation of suddenly you know having to flee your home and ending up in a refugee camp, you know hundreds of miles away.
National Geographic’s picture editor didn’t want to use the picture as it was too disturbing but finally relented and put the Afghan girl on the cover. The cover was and is a huge success. Steve recalls that “Right away, we got thousands of letters from people wanting to help her, send her money, adopt her, marry her,”. All these years later he still gets emails everyday wanting more information on the girl with the eyes.
Sharbat Gula 17 years after her first picture.
Steve McCurry had tried several times to find the girl in his picture but was hampered by the remoteness of Afghanistan and the ongoing civil war. Finally in January 2002, along with a team from National Geographic he travelled to Afghanistan to locate the subject of the now-famous photograph. McCurry, upon learning that the Nasir Bagh refugee camp was soon to close, inquired of its remaining residents, one of whom knew Gula’s brother and was able to send word to her hometown. However, there were a number of women who came forward and identified themselves as erroneously as the famous Afghan Girl. In addition, after being shown the 1984 photo, a handful of young men falsely claimed Gula as their wife.
The team finally located Gula, then roughly age 30, in a remote region of Afghanistan. To confirm that Sharbat Gula was the same girl as the famous image the National Geographic EXPLORER team used the same iris-scanning technology and face-recognition techniques used by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Modern pictures of her were featured as part of a cover story on her life in the April 2002 issue of National Geographic and was the subject of a television documentary, entitled Search for the Afghan Girl, which aired in March 2002. In recognition of her, National Geographic set up the Afghan Girls Fund, a charitable organization with the goal of educating Afghan women.
In 2012 Wired.com did a series of photos of photographers and their iconic pictures
When Sharbat was finally tracked down by the Explorer team she told of her life in war-torn Afghanistan. An ethnic Pashtun she was born around 1972 in a small village in Afghanistan. Her earliest memories include sounds of war, planes overhead and bombs falling. She remembers it as a time of hunger where she would rise for prayer at dawn and go to bed hungry. Sometime in the early 80’s, her village was attacked by Soviet helicopter gunships that killed her parents. Her, her siblings and grandmother hiked over the mountains to the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan.
She married Rahmat Gul in the late 1980s and returned to Afghanistan in 1992, eventually settling in the Taliban stronghold of Tora Bora. Gula had three daughters: Robina, Zahida, and Alia. A fourth daughter died in infancy. Sharbat has expressed the hope that her girls will receive the education she was never able to complete. McCurry has since set up a fund to see to her daughter’s education and any medical help they need.
Sharbat remembered Steve McCurry and getting her picture taken as it was the first time anybody had even taken her picture. Looking at the picture she recalled the holes in the red scarf she had worn, were from earlier in the day when she burned herself at the campfire. She recalls the time under the Taliban as peaceful and she regards the burka as a thing of beauty and a Muslim women’s duty to wear. While doing the interview she would not allow him to see her face, only lifting the veil when his face was behind his camera.
She had no idea that her face had become so famous and she had never seen her famous portrait before it was shown to her by the Explorer team in January 2002. At first, she was upset that her image was so widely seen, “but when I found out that I have been the cause of support/help for many people/refugees, then I became happy.” After meeting McCurry she stated that she wishes to live out of the limelight and, “will not give another media interview and she wishes not to be contacted”.
Sometime after McCurry found her she moved back to Pakistan. In 2012 her husband died from hepatitis C. While in Pakistan Sharbat purchased a fake ID so that she could purchase a home and educate her children. As tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan heightened the Pakistani government undertook an effort to force the millions of Afghani refugees to return to their war-torn country. Thousands of refugees were arrested for having fake IDs. One of the those caught up in this police action was Sharbat Gul. In the fall of 2016, she was arrested and spent 15 days in jail for possession of false papers. When the international media discovered her plight it caused headlines all over the world. Embarrassed the Pakistan government offered to allow her to stay but she refused and moved back to Kabul, Afghanistan in the spring of 2017. She told the BBC:
I told them that I am going to my country. I said: ‘You allowed me here for 35 years, but at the end treated me like this.’ It is enough. If I wanted to go back [to Pakistan], it will be just to offer prayer at the graves of my husband and daughter who are buried in front of the house we lived in.
As of 2017, she lives in Kabul under the protection of the Afghan government.
Steve McCurry born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1950 is an American photojournalist best known for his color photography. Throughout his career, he has covered many areas of international and civil conflict, including the Iran-Iraq war, Beirut, Cambodia, the Philippines, the Gulf War, and continuing coverage of Afghanistan. McCurry’s work has been featured in every major magazine in the world and frequently appears in National Geographic magazine. It was the Afghan war that launched his career when he snuck into Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. His pictures were some of the first to show the battle between the Afghan Mujaheddin and Soviet forces.
An investigation into how the picture was taken without Sharbat Gula’s consent and how she was furious that it was published.
Behind the camera: US Military Where: Military Photographer Photo Summary: DoD portrait Picture Taken: Undated
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee
Jessica Lynch became one of the main news stories of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Media jumped on the story of a cute little blond soldier who was plucked from behind enemy lines by US Special Forces. The American military filmed the rescue attempt and footage from the official military cut and stills from the footage became one of the most viewed pictures of the war. When talking about Jessica the media would also cut to a DoD portrait of her probably the most famous soldier of the war.
Jessica Dawn Lynch was born on April 26, 1983, in Palestine, West Virginia. She joined the army hoping to see the world after being turned down for a job at Walmart. She was assigned to the 507th Maintenance Company (based in Fort Bliss, Texas) as a Quartermaster Corps Private First Class (PFC).
The 507th Maintenance Company is based out of Fort Bliss, Texas. Made up of cooks, clerks, mechanics and other support staff provided they keep the 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery (ADA) running.
A trailing vehicle convoy of this unit got lost during the rapid advance towards Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 23, 2003. The 507th was last in a marching column of over 600 vehicles from the 3rd Infantry Division. This element which included the heavier, slower vehicles of the 507th, made a wrong turn into Nasiriyah, a major crossing point over the Euphrates River northwest of Basra. After the war, a U.S. Army investigation concluded that this wrong turn was the result of a navigational error compounded by a lack of rest, limited communications and human error.
Nasiriyah was still under Iraqi control and as the 507th drove around its crowded streets desperately trying to find their way out of the city they drove into an ambush where most in the unit were gunned down. Five members were able to get away but six either too wounded to run or totally surrounded by enemy forces surrendered after their weapons jammed from the Iraqi sand. Those taken prisoners were:
Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21, of Mission, Texas, was hit in the biceps of his right arm.
Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, of Alamogordo, New Mexico, was shot three times, twice in the ribs and once in the upper left buttocks.
Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 32, a naturalized American from Panama, was shot with a single bullet that sliced through both ankles. She was the first black women ever taken prisoner in American military history.
Private First Class Patrick Miller, 23, of Wichita, Kansas
Sgt. James Riley – 31-year-old bachelor from Pennsauken, New Jersey. As the senior soldier present, it was he who ordered the surrender.
Jessica Lynch born April 26, 1983, in Palestine, West Virginia suffered a head laceration, an injury to her spine, and fractures to her right arm, both legs, and her right foot and ankle. She was knocked unconscious after her Humvee crashed. In the book, I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story by Rick Bragg, the author alleges that Lynch was sodomized during her captivity. This was based on the medical records and her pattern of injuries. She would become a media sensation after her April 1, 2003 rescue and one of the main events of the Iraqi invasion.
When they surrendered, they feared the worse. Private First Class Patrick Miller held out little hope for mercy. “I thought they were going to kill me,” he said. “That was the first thing I asked when they captured me: ‘Are you going to kill me?’ They said no. . . . I still didn’t believe them.”
Best Friend, Lori Ann Piestewa
Are you going to kill me?
-Private First Class Patrick Miller
While the other members of her unit were taken into Iraqi custody two heavily injured American POWs, Jessica Lynch and her best friend in the army, Lori Ann Piestewa was taken first to a Military Field Hospital, a few hundred meters from the ambush site at 8 am, about an hour after the attack. A few hours later, she was brought to the al-Nasiriyah general hospital. Footage later emerged of the two receiving medical aid. When the footage was shot, Lori Ann Piestewa was still alive and when the Iraqi TV adjusted her body for the camera’s she appeared to grimace in pain although the footage didn’t seem to show was aware of what was going on. The footage was never aired in Iraq and only surfaced months later when an employee of the state-run Iraqi TV handed over a copy to American forces. While doctors were able to save Jessica Lynch, Lori Ann Piestewa died from severe head injuries.
Al-Nasiriyah General Hospital
no bullet … no stab wound, no other thing, merely … road traffic accident
When the American military rescued Lynch they reported that she had received several bullets and stab wounds from “valiantly” fighting the Iraqis until she ran out of ammunition. She herself claims that she never fired a shot as her gun jammed when the first bullet was fired, “I did not shoot – not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees – that’s the last thing I remember.” Also, Dr Harith Al-Houssona, 24, the doctor who first treated her at the hospital remembers her injuries, “I examine her, I see she has a broken arm… and broken thigh, with a dislocated ankle. Then we do another examination. There is no shooting, no bullet inside her body… no stab wound, no other thing, merely RTA. Only road traffic accident … She was very frightened when she woke up,… She kept saying: ‘Please don’t hurt me, don’t touch me.’ I told her that she was safe, she was in a hospital and that I was a doctor, and I never hurt a patient.” After gaining her trust Jessica had a number of conversations with the doctor discussing her boyfriend back home and fighting with her family. Dr Harith even went outside the hospital to get her some orange juice as she wouldn’t eat anything, “I told her she needed to eat to recover, and I brought her crackers, but her stomach was upset. She said as a joke: ‘I want to be slim.’ ”
In the time between her capture and being taken to the hospital, reports from American doctors who examined her after her rescue claimed that she had been raped. Mahdi Khafazji, an orthopedic surgeon at the Nasiriyah hospital disputed these claims. He was the doctor who performed surgery on Lynch to repair a fractured femur. He claims he found no sign of rape and protected Jessica when she arrived at the hospital, “She was injured at about 7 in the morning,” he said. “What kind of animal would do it to a person suffering from multiple injuries?”
As her condition stabilized Jessica’s military captors ordered staff to transfer her to another hospital but on March 30, 2003, Dr. Harith instead told the ambulance driver to take her to the advancing American forces but when the ambulance driver approached American forces they were fired upon forcing him to return Jessica to the hospital. Dr. Harith was then able to hide her in the hospital and when retreating Iraqi forces abandoned their positions and fell back to Baghdad without taking her thinking that she wasn’t at the hospital. By this time Iraqi informants had told American forces that an American POW was being held at the hospital.
Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief
The US military has claimed that several Iraqi informants were able to get in touch with American forces but the one that got the most media attention was Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief. According to Mohammed, he was visiting his wife who was a nurse in the hospital in an effort to get her to leave with him to a safer area while the fighting was going on:
I went to see my wife [and] What caught my attention was that there were some bodyguards at a door, and there was a rumor going around Nasariya that one of the Baath party leaders was in the hospital. But when passed nearby [Lynch’s room,] I heard the door slam hard. And the guards in front of the door were talking very loudly. That is not a common thing to do when there is a big leader in the room—doors close nicely, you talk quietly. There were no flowers, no gifts, and it didn’t like anybody was paying attention to that room. When there is a VIP, lots of doctors and nurses are around. I went in, I saw Jessica and three people—one was a fedayeen
[militia] officer, one a translator and a third one was writing. I saw the fedayeen officer slapping her face. She was answering to the translator instead of to him, that’s when he hit her … Because there was a young lady facing death. It was my duty to humanity to help her. The Americans came there to help us, and I looked at her like she was a savior for us. We were living under a very cruel dictatorship for 35 years. — Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief
Mohammed went on to say that he returned twice to American forces to give them information on the layout of the hospital and Jessica’s location. It was during one of these crossings between fighting Iraqi and American forces that his car was hit by shrapnel and Mohammed was hit in the face losing vision in his left eye.
After the successful rescue of Jessica on April 10 Mohammed his wife and then five-year-old daughter were taken to America from a refugee camp in Iraq. They were granted, “humanitarian parole, a status typically awarded for urgent humanitarian cases, such as foreigners needing urgent medical care.” Mohammed and his family were given this type of special treatment because the American’s could not guarantee his safety in Iraq.
After the end of combat operations, many other accounts of what happened began to cast doubt on Mohammed’s story with even his wife describing him as overly influenced by John Wayne movies. He still lives in the Washington D.C. area of the United States and as of 2006 works for The Livingston Group, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm run by former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston.
US Special forces tasked with her rescue carrying Lynch out of the Saddam Hospital or Al-Nasiriyah general Hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq on the night of April 01, 2003
On April 1, 2003, with information from Mohammed and other informants the military made their move to rescue Jessica. Earlier in the day Marines staged a diversionary attack against Iraqi forces in an effort to draw soldiers away from the hospital. While the Marines forces attacked a joint assault unit of Navy Seal’s and Army Rangers landed with BlackHawk helicopters and secured the hospital and took Jessica out. The military created a video and the footage shows a terrified Jessica in the hospital with what appears to be patients herded into one room.
It was the first time in decades that a military operation to rescue POWs behind enemy lines had been pulled off and Special Forces officials justified videotaping the operation for the historical value, and also for future educational purposes. When reports emerged that blanks were used during the raid Special forces personal bristled and went on to say that, “no shots — blanks or otherwise — were fired by the Navy SEAL-led team inside Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad.” In fact, officials said there was no resistance by any of the Iraqi’s present in the hospital but that treating those present as potential threats is part of their operating procedure.
Another part of the operation that is not often reported was that while Jessica was being brought down from hospital a team of soldiers was digging up the nine members of Jessica’s unit that had been killed, some of which had been killed with a shot to the forehead.
They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong
Jessica returned to America with a hero’s welcome in her hometown, Palestine, West Virginia and her family and fiancé, Sgt. Ruben Contreras, who was also in the army. By the time she came back to America, Jessica Lynch was a media star. Offers for book deals poured in and eventually she signed a one for over a million dollars which went on to become a best seller and later became a movie, Saving Jessica Lynch.
On August 27, 2003, Lynch was given a medical honorable discharge and after months of physical therapy, Lynch began to feel confident about her ordeal and the Pentagon’s spin of the events surrounding her capture. While doing an interview with Diane Sawyer she again denied that she went down fighting and while expressing gratitude for her rescue said the way the Pentagon portrayed the rescue bothered her, “Yes, it does. They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong.”
After returning home her relationship cooled with finance Sgt. Contreras. First, there was a postponement in 2004 and by 2006 the two were just good friends. In August 2005 Lynch started attending West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. In 2006 she announced that she and boyfriend Wes Robinson are expecting a girl which was born in January. The 7 pounds, 10 ounces was given a name inspired by her best friend in the army Lori Piestewa who died when they were attacked, Dakota Ann Robinson. Ann was Lori Piestewa’s middle name and Dakota means friendship or ally.
Behind the camera: US Military Where: Adwar, Iraq about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Tikrit, Saddam’s ancestral home Photo Summary: Saddam Hussein getting a medical checkup from an unknown US military doctor. He would later be treated by Dr. Sudip Bose Picture Taken: December 13, 2003
Saddam was last seen April 9, 2003, just before American forces overran Baghdad. As the months passed American forces were under intense pressure to capture the former President of Iraq. The Iraqi uprising was escalating and the American government hoped that the capture of Saddam would take the wind out of the sails of the insurgency. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld even visited the task force charged with finding Saddam. He told the commander in charge of the operation, “I’m dumbfounded when I think about it … The chances of us using that kind of money to find somebody — to figure out how to invest some time and develop a network and produce the information that would do it — I mean, that ought to be doable.” Finally, on December 13, 2003, Paul Bremer the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq held a press conference where he formally announced the capture of Saddam Hussein by saying what would become his famous phrase, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.” The footage shown at that news conference of a heavily bearded Saddam calmly getting a medical checkup from US military personnel would be shown around the world and become one of his most famous images.
Operation Red Dawn
Saddam had been on the run since April evading American forces by disguise and his network of loyal Iraqi civilians. Slowly though Americans were able to breakdown his security network by arresting security officials and former bodyguards. Finally, a breakthrough when on December 12 Mohamed Ibrahim Omar al-Musslit was unexpectedly captured in Baghdad. Mohamed had been a key figure in the President’s special security organization. His arrest leads to other arrests and interrogation of one of these detainees lead to information on Saddam’s whereabouts.
The informer told American forces that Saddam was located in the village of Ad-Dawr on the outskirts of Tikrit in one of two groups of buildings on a farm codenamed Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2.
Within hours Colonel James Hickey (1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division) together with US Special Operations Forces launched Operation Red Dawn and under cover of darkness made for the target areas. At first, the units didn’t find anything, but under closer inspection, Special Forces found what they called a “spider hole” with Saddam inside. As soldiers removed the cover for of the spider hole they saw Saddam Hussein who seeing he had no option but surrender said, “I am the President of Iraq…” — to which an American soldier replied: “The President of The United States sends his regards.” In his almost tomb-like hole Saddam had two AK-47s, a pistol, $750,000 in $100 bills.
Death to Saddam! Down with Saddam!
On December 13, 2003, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) of Iran first reported that Saddam Hussein had been arrested, citing Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. These reports were soon confirmed by other members of the Iraq Interim Governing Council, by U.S. military sources, and by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a press conference in Baghdad, shortly afterwards, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, formally announced the capture of Saddam Hussein by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.” Bremer reported that Saddam had been captured at approximately 8:30 p.m. Iraqi time on December 13.
At the news conference, Bremer presented video footage of Saddam in custody. Saddam Hussein was shown with a full beard and hair longer and curlier than his familiar appearance, which a barber later restored. His identity was later reportedly confirmed by DNA testing. He was described as being in good health and as “talkative and co-operative”. At the news conference Iraqi journalists rose to their feet and started shouting, “Death to Saddam!” and “Down with Saddam!”
Behind the camera: Various Internal Media Organizations Where: Baghdad’s Firdus Square, directly in front of the Palestine Hotel where the world’s journalists had been quartered. Photo Summary: Crowd of people celebrating the destruction of Saddam’s Statue Picture Taken: April 9, 2003
The 2003 invasion of Iraq, code-named “Operation Iraqi Freedom” by the United States, officially began on March 20, 2003. The stated objective of the invasion was “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people”. As American forces streamed across the border most of the world thought that Saddam’s regime would quickly collapse but as the weeks past America’s invasion looked to be stalled. The Iraqi Information Minister, Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf (M.S.S.) ran a successful propaganda program claiming that American forces were being defeated and pushed back. Even as the American forces entered Baghdad M.S.S. asserted that the Iraqis were winning, “The infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad … As our leader Saddam Hussein said, ‘God is grilling their stomachs in hell.'” Even though his reports were denied by American forces there was a feeling especially in the Arab world that Iraq was putting up more fight than what was expected and maybe even winning. These views were dashed when the now-famous footage of American forces entering Baghdad’s Firdus Square and then began pulling down a huge statue of Saddam without any kind of Iraqi resistance.
The event was initially broadcast as a spontaneous show of Iraqi joy at the overthrow of the Saddam regime. It was at first reported that Iraqi civilians were trying to pull down the statue and only later were they helped by the American military. It was later revealed that rather than an Iraqi inspired event it was a stage-managed American plan from a psychological operations team. The location of the statue in Baghdad’s Firdus Square, directly in front of the Palestine Hotel where the world’s journalists had been quartered made the statue the perfect target. The army wouldn’t have to ship journalists anywhere as they were already on location. An internal military study determined that it was a fast-thinking Marine colonel who planned the operation. The square was closed off and his team used loudspeakers to get Iraqi civilians to come out a help.
The footage from that day seemed to show huge crowds and many media reports compared it to the fall of the Berlin wall. The footage was shot mostly via close up camera’s near the statue that filmed what seemed to be a large crowd of people in civilian clothing but looking at wide shots of the scene you can see that the large square was largely deserted except for a small crowd around the statue. Analysts would lament that “What you saw on television looked like there were throngs of thousands and in reality, it was just a few dozen people.” It was also unclear where the crowd came from with reports that they were bused in from anti-Saddam slums in Sadr City or anti-Saddam Iraqi National Congress military forces flown in from outside Iraq. Al Jazeera reporters in the movie Control Room seemed to back the theory of the crowd coming from outside Iraq as they remarked that people from the crowd didn’t seem to speak Arabic with Iraqi accents.
The 12-metre tall Statue was one of Iraq’s newest Sculptures erected in honor of Saddam Hussein’s 65th birthday in April of 2002. In May of 2003, a group of Iraqi artists raised a new statue where Saddam used to stand. The Iraqi artists describe, “the new sculpture is seven metres (23 feet) high and shows a symbolic Iraqi family holding aloft a crescent moon and a sun.”
The Main Players
Marine Corporal Edward Chin of the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines regiment, a 23 year old ethnic Chinese who moved to New York when he was one, was the soldier who scaled the statue to put the chain around the neck of the giant Saddam. He also attached the American flag, and then climbed back up to replace it with an Iraqi one. “At the moment, I was just doing what I was told to do by my commanding officer,” Corporal Chin said. “I had to get the job done just like we’ve been doing out here in Iraq.”
Kadhem Sharif was the huge sledgehammer wielding strongman who was filmed trying to smash the base of the statue. He had a hot and cold relationship with the Saddam Family as a world-class wrestler and weightlifter he frequently felt the wrath of Saddam’s son, Uday, and was even put in jail after the team did poorly. He designed a huge expensive weightlifting gym for Uday and saw first hand how Uday would abuse steroids. He is convinced Uday’s excessive use of steroids drove him insane. A mechanic, he had a falling out with Uday after a disagreement when he refused to fix Uday’s collection of motorbikes. He was promptly arrested and spent several years in jail on trumped-up charges. Famous around Baghdad for his collection of bikes in 2004 he was arrested for trying to sell looted motorcycles. In 2008 for an interview with Al Jazeera he stated that due to the harsh and violent years of American occupation it was a joyful day that he doesn’t want to remember now. After the huge suicide bomb that killed hundreds of people in the summer of 2016, he did an interview with BBC’s Jeremy Bowen. He told Bowen that he looked back with regret at Saddam’s overthrow:
Saddam has gone, and we have one thousand Saddams now, … It wasn’t like this under Saddam. There was a system. There were ways. We didn’t like him, but he was better than those people. Saddam never executed people without a reason. He was as solid as a wall. There was no corruption or looting, it was safe. You could be safe.”
When asked what would he do if he meets Tony Blair, he responded, “I would say to him you are a criminal, and I’d spit in his face.”
Ali Fares and Khaled Hamid were some of the men who put the initial rope around the statue’s neck.”We asked the Americans to bring us this rope with a noose. I climbed the ladder myself. To begin with, I was scared, but when I climbed the ladder, the Iraqis started clapping, even the American soldiers. I heard them saying nice things about me. I couldn’t reach Saddam’s head, but by that time there was no fear. I was sure we’d got rid of him.”
Marine Lieutenant Tim McLaughlin was the soldier who provided the first American flag. The flag was had been in the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 and was given to Kuhlman by a friend. He kept it carefully wrapped in a box on the bottom of his tank and tried to raise it two times before. The first time he was forced to retreat after taking shots from a sniper and the second time the flag pole broke. As they stood around the statue his company commander, Captain Bryan Lewis asked for the flag to put on the statue. McLaughlin still has the flag that he keeps wrapped up on his bookshelf.
Marine Lieutenant Casey Kuhlman claims that he provided the second pre-1991 Iraqi flag. When the first flag went up the crowd started to turn ugly. He remembers that people started shouting and woman correspondent for a Middle Eastern television company started begging for them to take it down. Seeing the need for action he quickly brought out the Iraqi flag and passed it through the crowd. Where strongman Kadhem Sharif claims to have taken it to the marines on the crane.
Behind the camera: Alberto Korda Where: Memorial service for the victims of the 4 March 1960 explosion of the Belgian arms transport ‘La Coubre’ Photo Summary: Che Guevara in, ‘The most famous photograph in the world and a symbol of the 20th century.'” — Maryland Institute College of Art” Picture Taken: March 5, 1960
On March 4, 1960, a terrific explosion rocked Cuba’s Havana Harbor. The French freighter La Coubre carrying Belgian munitions exploded. The initial explosion plus a secondary explosion killed over a hundred people and was immediately blamed on the CIA as an act of sabotage against the Castro regime. The next day, a memorial service was held that quickly turned into an anti-imperialist rally. Among the audience was a photographer, Alberto Korda. While Castro was giving one of his endless speeches, Che Guevara appeared near the front of the stage and looked over the crowd before moving out of sight again. In that short time Korda was able to snap one of the most iconic images of all time. Titled, Guerrillero Heroico, it would grow in fame as a symbol of the late 60s leftist protest movement. It would later be called, “the most famous photograph in the world and a symbol of the 20th century.” by the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Che Guevara, real name, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born June 14, 1928, in the city of Rosario, Argentina. His upper-class family was of mixed Spanish, Basque and Irish descent. Throughout his life, he suffered from crippling bouts of asthma. The treatments of the time gave little relief and it was perhaps this helplessness that inspired him to learn medicine, eventually graduating from the University of Buenos Aires medical school in 1953.
While he was a student, he would often travel throughout South America on the fly, with little or no money. He often used to write in a journal and to home about the poverty and injustice he saw in his travels. The written record of one of these journeys with his friend, Alberto Granado, was published as a book and eventually a movie by the same name, The Motorcycle Diaries. It was during these travels that he was given his nickname, “Che” because of his frequent use of the word. “Che” is the equivalent of “mate” or “pal” in English and is a regional word only used in Argentina and Uruguay.
While in Mexico, he met and became a member of Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement, which was devoted to the overthrow of the Batista’s Cuban regime. In 1956 when the movement tried to storm Cuba it was almost wiped out in its first battle with at about 20 rebels, including Che, surviving. Quickly retreating to the Mountains Castro’s movement grew and became more and more successful. In 1959 Castro seized power and Batista fled the country. In February of the same year, Che was declared Cuban citizen by birth and held a number of high ranking positions in the country including, head of the National Bank of Cuba and Minister of Industries. Che espoused a modest lifestyle and avoided the trapping of power but was never successful in government. Eventually, he sought to prove himself again in battle and embarked in 1965 in an effort to spread Cuba’s revolution, and to start as “many Vietnams” around the world as possible.
His first stop and first failure was in the Belgian Congo, later Zaire and currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he assisted African rebels including Laurent-Désiré Kabila. CIA support of Congo government forces and Kabila’s seemingly interest in women more than revolution where major factors in the revolt being crushed. Although Kabila would 30 years later force Mobutu to flee Zaire when he entered Kinshasa on May 20, 1997, seizing control of the country.
Che’s next stop was Bolivia where a series of disasters leads to his rebel army being surrounded and himself being captured by a CIA-organized military operation. Guevara was killed in an old schoolhouse in La Higuera near Vallegrande on October 9, 1967. He was photographed dead, his hands removed and his body secretly buried in an effort to prevent his corpse from becoming a shrine and himself becoming a martyr. It was these photos of Guevara’s handless corpse that the American’s wished to be the lasting legacy of Che. Yet it was another photo, one of him alive, taken 7 years earlier by Alberto Korda that he would be immortalized.
The unaltered photo Alberto Korda took
Alberto Korda (September 14, 1928 – May 25, 2001) whose real name is Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez was born in Havana (Early in his career he changed it to Korda in hopes that people would hear “Kodak”). The son of a railway worker he took many jobs before choosing photography. Behind the camera, he found he was able to achieve his main goal in life, women. His first wife, Natalia Menendez, became the first Cuban fashion model. She would later recount, “He loved three things in this world – women, rum and the Cuban Revolution.” During Batista’s rule in the ’50s, Korda lived a double life spending his days photographing models and nights smuggling guns and people as a secret member of the urban anti-Batista underground.
After Castro triumphantly ousted the Batista government, Korda became Castro’s photographer and also worked as a photographer for the Cuban daily newspaper, Revoluciòn. It was while on assignment for Revoluciòn at the La Coubre memorial on March 5, 1960, that he took pictures of Cuban dignitaries and famous French writers Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Included in the film roll where shots of all the speakers and two pictures of Che’s brief appearance. The editor of Revoluciòn decided to only use his shots of Castro and the French writers, sending the Che shot back to Korda. Korda knew that Che’s image was powerful and made a cropped version to hang on his wall. Korda would say he chose the image because “there’s something about his eyes in the photo. A kind of mystery. His personality comes through. It’s always hung on my walls and I’ve given it to many people as a present.”
Enter Giangiacomo Feltrinelli
Korda's roll of film negatives. Guerrillero Heroico appears on the fourth row down, third picture over
Passed out to the occasional friend and one or two Cuban publications Che’s image remained relatively unknown for 7 years until Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli entered the picture. The Italian was famous in Europe for smuggling the “Dr. Zivago” manuscript out of The Soviet Union. Feltrinelli had just come from Bolivia where he had hoped his fame would help in negotiating the release of a French journalist and professor Regis Debray. Debray had been arrested in Bolivia in connection with guerrilla operations lead by Che Guevara. Debray was able to tell Feltrinelli that Guevara was leading a doomed mission to overthrow the Bolivian government. The Italian publisher seeing a business opportunity in the publicity that would erupt if Che were killed had obtained the rights to publish Chè’s Bolivian Diary and asked Cuban officials where to get Guevara images.
Directed to Korda’s studio Feltrinelli presented himself and a letter of introduction from a high-ranking member of the Cuban administration. The document asked for Korda’s help in finding a good portrait of Che. Korda knew right away that his favorite image of Che fit the bill and pointed to the 1960 shot of Che hanging on the wall, “This is my best Che picture”. Feltrinelli agreed and ordered 2 prints. When he returned the next day to pick them up Korda told him that because he was a friend of the revolution he didn’t have to pay.
Che becomes iconic
Not long after this Debray’s prediction of Che’s doom became true when CIA agents and their CIA trained Bolivian military Special Forces hunted down and executed Che on Oct 9, 1967. The Cubans named the year after his death year of the Guerrillero Heroico. Korda’s daughter thinks this is why he titled his image,
After his death, Feltrinelli quickly released Che’s Bolivian Diary with the Korda shot on the cover and also a poster to promote the book. The poster went on to sell well over a million copies with no mention or credit given to Alberto. The Feltrinelli publishing house has argued the poster was only to promote Che’s Bolivian Diary book. Still, Korda never received any money or credit for the reproduction of the picture even though unlike others who used his image, Feltrinelli knew who was the actual photographer. It wasn’t until 1980 that it was revealed that the photographer was Korda.
Jim Fitzpatrick's version of Che's picture
While Feltrinelli made millions off Alberto’s work and even though he never saw a penny refused to bear any ill will towards the Italian. “I still forgive him, because by doing what he did, he made it famous.” Not that Korda was able to do anything about it the first place. Under Fidel, Cuba was not a signatory to the Berne Convention on intellectual property. Castro considered copyrights and intellectual property “capitalist bullshit”.
The Feltrinelli poster was not the only source of Alberto’s image. The Korda image was appearing in Europe before the Feltrinelli poster was published and is confirmed to be used in at least one article, a Paris Match magazine dating from August 19, 1967, about the whereabouts of Che.
Around this time Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick was also using Korda image as a basis for creating his own stylized posters.
… the first image I did of Che was psychedelic, it looks like he is in seaweed. His hair was not hair, it was shapes that I felt gave it an extra dimension. That was the image I produced for the magazine and that was done before he died and that is the important thing about that image…. For reference I was looking at a photograph that I had seen in the German ‘Stern’ magazine, a strong political magazine with left-wing views. It was a photo taken by ‘Korda’, but I didn’t know that at the time…. I did a number of graphic versions from the photo. The first was a square, b/w. The second that I re-photographed, had poster proportions, 20 x 30. The third image was the black on red, because I had decided to do leaflets … I re-drew the photograph, that’s what I call a line drop-out. I wanted it to look photographic but I drew it by hand, on Litho film … that was printed then in [two colors red and black] and I decided that the star should be yellow, so I painted that in with a magic
Fitzpatrick “wanted the image to breed like rabbits” and printed thousands of images giving them away to anyone, getting friends to pass them out and encouraging others to make their own versions. In Fitzpatrick’s and other’s artistic reproductions of the original photograph, it is interesting to note a small change in how Che is looking out toward the crowd. In the original photo, Guevara is looking to the crowd or the area in front of him whereas in other versions Che is looking toward the distant horizon. This small shift in the gaze makes it look like he looking towards the future in defiance. To a future when Che’s socialist dreams would become reality.
Around the time of the Fitzpatrick image, Pop Art was starting to make its way into the mainstream. The concepts of Pop Art blended perfectly with the style of the simplified Che poster. Thus Che image entered a new world, one of Art. Korda’s picture instead of being one of defiance towards the capitalist system, which Che fought against, has gone from a political statement to an artist’s muse to the very symbol of capitalism. The picture of Che has now been turned into a trendy marketing ploy, with his image selling everything from T-Shirts to wristwatches.
Korda puts his foot down
Silent while his Che image was reproduced, a million times over without ever getting any proceeds, he finally put his fist down when he saw that his photo was being used to sell Smirnoff vodka. In 2000, 40 years after he took the picture, he sued the advertising agency Lowe Lintas, and Rex Features, the company that supplied the photograph. “To use the image of Che Guevara to sell vodka is a slur on his name and memory,” Korda told the media. “He never drank himself, he was not a drunk, and drink should not be associated with his immortal memory.” He was able to affirm his ownership of the photo and won an out-of-court settlement of $50,000. He promptly donated the money to the Cuban medical system, “If Che were still alive, he would have done the same.” Korda’s daughter now owns and manages the Che image.
The copyright of this image is in dispute. The Korda estate run by his family insists that they own the copyright and have successfully sued various companies to either halt the use of the image or receive financial compensation. Korda sued vodka maker Smirnoff based on Che’s “moral rights”. This “moral rights” ruling is not valid in America, though many countries view it as an important part of their copyright law. Under the Berne Convention moral rights are included but Castro and Cuba never signed the Berne copyright laws. However, if Korda was alive he could sue in other courts but since he has died the moral rights have died with him as they aren’t transferable. As for the ruling that he owned the copyright, that was never decided upon in court as the Case of (Korda v. Lintas & Rex) was settled “sensibly and amicably” out of court. Also in Ariana Hernández-Reguant’s writings, Copyrighting Che: Art and Authorship under Cuban Late Socialism Public Culture it was noted that “There was never any official ruling on whether the depiction constituted a violation of copyright.” The author goes on to state that: ~ “Korda took the picture while working for a state-run newspaper, his actual property rights would be questionable under both Cuban and international law.”
Behind the camera: Associated Press photographer Nick Út (Also known as Huynh Cong Út), ITN news crew including Christopher Wain and cameraman great Alan Downes. Also there was NBC cameraman Le Phuc Dinh who filmed Kim running towards the reporters. Where: On the Vietnamese highway (Route 1) that leads from Saigon towards the Cambodian border just outside the village of Trang Bang, about 25 miles WNW of Saigon. Photo Summary: Kim Phuc (aged 9) running naked in the middle with her older brother, Phan Thanh Tam (12), crying out to the left. Her younger brother, Phan Thanh Phuoc (5), to the left looking back at the village and to the right are Kim Phu’s small cousins Ho Van Bo, a boy, and Ho Thi Ting, a girl. Picture Taken: June 8, 1972
This photo of Kim Phuc (full name Phan Thị Kim Phúc) was taken just after South Vietnamese planes bombed her village. She had only lived because she tore off her burning clothes. AP Photographer Nick Út and NBC cameraman Le Phuc Dinh filmed her and her family emerging from the village, after the airstrike, running for their lives. This photo has become one of the most famous and memorable photos of Vietnam and won Nick Út the Pulitzer prize in 1972.
Air Strike on Trang Bang
AP reporter Nick Út was among a number of reporters sent to the small village of Trang Bang along Route 1, the highway that leads from Saigon towards the Cambodian border. Travelling with Nick was ITN correspondent, Christopher Wain, North Vietnamese troops had taken control of the Highway there and Nick was sent to cover the South Vietnamese soldiers from the 25th Army Division who were ordered to retake Trang Bang and open the Highway. When Nick arrived he and other reporters also on assignment stood with South Vietnamese soldiers just outside the village watching the action.
The South Vietnamese commander of the unit requested an airstrike and propeller-driven Skyraiders, Korean-war vintage planes from the 518th Vietnamese Airforce Squadron, dropped Napalm on the village. When the smoke cleared villagers from the Trang Bang ran screaming from the village to the soldiers and reporters up the road. Taking pictures with two cameras, his Leica and a Nikon with a long lens, Nick Út remembers seeing Kim Phuc running naked down the street:
As soon as she saw me, she said: “I want some water, I’m too hot, too hot,” – in Vietnamese, “Nong qua, nong qua!” And she wanted something to drink. I got her some water. She drank it and I told her I would help her. I picked up Kim and took her to my car. I ran up about 10 miles to Cu Chi hospital, to try to save her life. At the hospital, there were so many Vietnamese people – soldiers were dying there. They didn’t care about the children. Then I told them: “I am a media reporter, please help her, I don’t want her to die.” And the people helped her right away.
Christopher Wain also remembers the event after the napalm struck:
There was a blast of heat which felt like someone had opened the door of an oven. Then we saw Kim and the rest of the children. None of them were making any sound at all – until they saw the adults. Then they started to scream. We were short of film and my cameraman, the late, great Alan Downes, was worried that I was asking him to waste precious film shooting horrific pictures which were too awful to use. My attitude was that we needed to show what it was like, and to their lasting credit, ITN ran the shots.
Nick quickly released that without help Kim would die and so drove her and other injured family members to the hospital. Kim already thought she was doomed and while reporters and soldiers tried to treat her horrible wounds she told her brother Tam, “I think I am going to die.” Driving an hour to the provincial Vietnamese hospital in Cu Chi, halfway up the highway to Saigon, Kim passed out from the pain.
The hospital was used to war injuries, and after years of civil war knew that Kim’s chances of living were slim to none and tried to triage her, or put her aside so they could treat other wounded who had better chances of living. Only at Nick’s urging that the girl had been photographed and her picture would be shown all over the world did the hospital staff agree to operate. Nick didn’t leave to develop his film until she was put on the operating table. At first, his editors refused to run it because she was naked but when nick explained that she had no clothes because they had been burned off her body they changed their minds and sent it around the world.
Life after the napalm
On June 12, 1972, then American President Richard Nixon was recorded talking to his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, discussing the Vietnam War. Among other things he was recorded saying they should use the Atomic bomb in Vietnam and talking about Kim’s photo said, “I’m wondering if that was fixed,” Haldeman replied, “Could have been.”
While Nixon debated with his staff about whether she was a fraud Kim defied all expectations and after a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures, she returned home to the napalm bombed village of, Trang Bang. Nick continued to visit until the fall of Saigon three years later, in 1975, when he along with other American media employees were evacuated.
As Kim grew up there was a lot of pressure from government and anti-war groups who forced her to be used as an anti-war symbol. She requested and was eventually granted permission to move to Cuba to study pharmacy. In was in Cuba that she meet her future husband, Bui Huy Tuan. They were married and a Korean friend paid for a vacation to Moscow in 1992. On the return flight, their plane stopped over in Gander, Newfoundland, a province in Canada. As it was refuelling she and her husband walked off and defected to the Canadian government.
The two live in Ajax, Ontario Canada and have two children, Thomas and Stephen. In 1997 she established the Kim Foundation a non-profit charitable organization that funds medical care for child victims of war around the world. For her charity work she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law from York University in Toronto, Ontario, in 2002, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and the Order of Ontario in 2004.
These days find her touring the world and giving speeches at churches and schools talking about her story, the Kim Foundation and her hopes for peace:
I should have died
My skin should have burned off my body
But I’m still beautiful, right?
…Don’t see a little girl crying out in fear and pain
See her as crying out for peace.
Who ordered the Strike
The picture has since become a powerful anti-war piece and symbolizes everything wrong with American involvement in Vietnam. This is ironic considering a South Vietnamese commander ordered an airstrike carried out by the South Vietnamese Airforce which was flown by Vietnamese pilots. By June 1972 the “Vietnamization” (The handing over of American duties to their South Vietnamese counterparts) in the country was in full swing and most Americans had been withdrawn back to the States.
But did America have any involvement in the airstrike? In 1996 Kim gave a speech at the United States Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Veterans Day where she said that we cannot change the past but can work for a peaceful future. After the speech, Vietnam war veteran John Plummer, now a Methodist minister, talked to some of his old buddies and got them to ask if she would like to meet him for he stated that he was the one who ordered the bombing. She accepted and they met briefly and Plummer remembers that, “as I approached her, she saw my grief, my pain, my sorrow. She held out her arms to me and we embraced. All I could say was “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry’ over and over again. And I heard her saying to me “It’s all right. It’s all right. I forgive. I forgive.” He also claims that later in the day, they knelt together (Kim had converted to Christianity in Vietnam) and prayed together. Plummer said, “Finally, I was free. I had found peace.”
Plummer claimed that he received a call from an American military adviser working with a South Vietnamese army unit, who requested an airstrike on the village of Trang Bang. He relayed the request for a strike to U.S. Air Force personnel, who asked the South Vietnamese air force to launch it. Later, he saw the photo in Stars and Stripes, and recognized the bombing as one in which he was involved.
His version of events sparked quite a bit of controversy as he originally was quoted as saying he ordered the attack. His former superior retired Maj. Gen. Niles J. Fulwyler, was quoted as saying that Plummer didn’t have the authority to order the attack and that, “He did not direct that Vietnamese aircraft in that attack,”. In response to outraged Vietnam vets claiming he exaggerated his role in the bombing Plummer has since said that while he didn’t order the attack he definitely relayed the orders to others in the military machine.
Nick Ut (born March 29, 1951 as Huynh Cong Ut) is a Vietnamese photographer born in the town of Long An, then part of South Vietnam. On January 1, 1966, when Ut was only 14 he began to take photos for the Associated Press after his older brother Huynh Thanh My, another AP photographer, was killed in Vietnam. While covering the war Ut was wounded three times. When South Vietnam fell Ut moved and worked for the Korean, and Japanese branches of AP before settling in Los Angles, America in 1977. Ut and his wife, Le Tuyet Hong, live in Monterey Park, California, with their two children.
In LA he became a celebrity photographer and in 2007 famously captured Paris Hilton being forced back to prison exactly 35 years after taking the Napalm Girl photo. When New York Daly News asked about the Paris Hilton shot Ut replied, “I was lucky to get the shot I did, I focused on her blond hair when she got out.” when asked about celebrity versus war photography, he only said, “It’s very different.” The Paris Hilton shot gained even more media controversy when it emerged that standing beside Ut was photographer Karl Larsen who took a similar shot. Many media outlets used Larsen’s picture and credited it as Ut’s. Larsen ended up having to sue stations like ABC for lost revenue.