Nixons V sign

Behind the camera: AP Photographer
Where: White House lawn Washington D.C. America
Photo Summary: Nixon giving his famous V sign before he boards the Presidential helicopter, Army One (Until 1976 Marine Corps shared the responsibility of helicopter transport with the Army).
Picture Taken: August 9, 1974

Well, when the President does it, that means that it’s not illegal
-Nixon

Say Nixon to anyone and ask what word comes to mind, most likely they will say “Watergate”. One of the biggest scandals in America’s history, Watergate forced the 37th President of the United States, President Richard Milhous Nixon, to resign from the president’s office on August 9, 1974 (The only president ever to resign). Every other scandal since then has had the suffix “gate” added to it. The image of Nixon entering the Marine-One Helicopter door, smiling and giving his patented two-handed V-sign was for many
the last image of Nixon.

Nixon


Photo by Bob Daughtery/AP File Photo

Photo by Bob Daughtery/AP File Photo

Nixon was born Jan 9, 1913, to Francis Nixon and Hannah Milhouse Nixon in Yorba Linda, California. Raised a Quaker he lived a modest life yet still managed to excel in school earning a full-tuition scholarship from Harvard. The Harvard scholarship didn’t include living expenses, so Nixon couldn’t go and instead studied at the local Quaker school, Whittier College. He graduated in 1934 second in his class and managed to secure a full scholarship at Duke University School of Law.
He returned to California after graduation where he practiced law and met his future wife Pat, a high school teacher. The two married on June 21, 1940. When war broke out the next year he served as an officer in the Navy eventually working in the supply corps of the South Pacific. As a poker shark he built up a large fund which when the war ended, he used to fund his election campaign to get into Congress.
Nixon quickly rose through the political ranks becoming Vice President on Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1952 ticket. In 1960, he first tried to become President running against and losing to John F Kennedy. In 1962 he again lost an election this time for California Governor. He moved to New York where he worked as a high profile lawyer until 1968 when he made a political come back to not only win the Republican nomination for President but also the election itself. Beating Hubert H. Humphrey and George Wallace, Nixon became the 37th President of the United States.

Nixon Achievements

He took America off the gold standard, created many of the acronyms that we are familiar with today including the: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), even the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Treaty with Russia (SALT Treaty). The Nixon presidency normalized diplomatic relations with Communist China, talked to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin while they walked on the moon, and among other things created the Legal Services Corporation. However, the Nixon White House will always be marred by some of the Bloodiest years of the Vietnam War, secret bombings of neutral Cambodia and of course Watergate.
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Watergate


Ollie Atkins takes a different angle


On June 17, 1972, Frank Wills, a security guard working at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. called the police when he noticed suspicious activity. The police arrived and arrested five men who were discovered breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. The five men, Bernard Barker, Virgilio González, Eugenio Martínez, James W. McCord, Jr., and Frank Sturgis were discovered to have links to the CIA and the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP also known as CREEP). The men had been part of a plot to sabotage the Democratic election bid the burglary was later revealed as an attempt to repair listening devices planted in an earlier break-in. The White House at the time was able to deny any links to the men but over the course of two years two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, were able to uncover a series of embarrassing and incriminating disclosures about Nixon’s abuse of presidential executive powers. The final straw that forced Nixon from office was a tape between the Vice President and Nixon, the recording would later be known as the “smoking gun”.

His own undoing

Secretive and often paranoid Nixon had taken to tape recording all activities in the White House. These tapes would later be used against Nixon when a transcript of a recording made in the Oval Office, the so-called “smoking gun” tape was released on August 5, 1974. It showed that on June 17, 1972, six days after the Watergate break-in, Nixon had discussed using the CIA to block the FBI’s investigation of the burglary. This recorded conversation directly linked “Tricky Dick” to the burglary something he always denied. Seeing the writing on the wall and seeking to avoid a long drawn out impeachment trial, three days later Nixon gave a televised resignation speech and on August 9, 1974, boarded the Army One Helicopter. Just before entering he turned back to the White House and Press and gave his famous smile and V-sign.

Hunter S. Thompson on the scene

In with the Press Club was reporter Hunter S. Thompson who gave this account:

I walked outside to the Rose Garden, where a big olive-drab helicopter was perched on the lawn, about 100 feet out from the stairs. The rain had stopped and a long, red carpet was laid out on the wet grass from the White House door to the helicopter. I eased through the crowd of photographers and walked out, looking back at the White House, where Nixon was giving his final address to a shocked crowd of White House staffers. I examined the aircraft very closely, and I was just about to climb into it when I heard a loud rumbling behind me; I turned around just in time to see Richard and Pat coming toward me, trailing their daughters and followed Closely by Gerald Ford and Betty. Their faces were grim and they were walking very slowly; Nixon had a glazed smile on his face, not looking at anybody around him, and walked like a wooden Indian full of Thorazine.

…I lit a cigarette and watched him climb the steps to the door of the helicopter. . . Then he spun around very suddenly and threw his arms straight up in the famous twin-victory signal; his eyes were still glazed, but he seemed to be looking over the heads of the crowd at the White House. Nobody was talking. A swarm of photographers rushed the plane as Nixon raised his arms– but his body had spun around too fast for his feet, and as his arms went up I saw him losing his balance. The grimace on his face went slack, then he bounced off the door and stumbled into the cockpit. … The helicopter went straight up and hovered for a moment, then swooped down toward the Washington Monument and then angled up into the fog.
Richard Nixon was gone.

Retirement

After leaving by helicopter Nixon fly flew from the South Grounds of the White House to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. He later recounted, “As the helicopter moved on to Andrews I found myself thinking not of the past but of the future. What could I do now?…” At Andrews, Nixon boarded the Air Force One Jet that flew him to El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, California and then to his new home, San Clemente, California. While flying to California to start his self-imposed exile back in the East Room of the White House, Chief Justice Burger swore in Ford as the 38th President of the United States. When news reached the pilot of Air Force One, he radioed in to change the plane’s call sign from “Air Force One” to “SAM 26000″ as the plane no longer carried the president.
In his home state of California Nixon over the years with carefully timed releases of interviews and books slowly worked his way back into the Washington political scene, even visiting the White House. By his death on April 22, 1994, he was seen as a respected elder statesman and gave counsel to both Republican and Democratic governments.

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Other Political Scandal pictures

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Starving Sudanese girl

Behind the camera: Kevin Carter
Where: Ayod, Sudan (Now South Sudan)
Photo Summary: Young Sudanese girl crawling to the food station
Picture Taken: March 1993

In March of 1993 the combination of civil war, drought had created famine conditions throughout Southern Sudan. Reporting on the starving people Kevin Carter and other journalists flew into Ayod, Sudan (Now in the newly created country of South Sudan) where he took this famous picture of a young Sudanese girl crawling to the food station. For the image he won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Feature Photography.

Taking the image

In 1983 the East African Famine had struck the whole region leaving millions starving in Africa. Carter was anxious to cover the event and took a leave of absence from his newspaper job and borrowed money to pay for the flight. At Ayod, Sudan a small village that became a food aid station, starving people from hundreds of kilometers away staggered into the camp to get food but were still dying at an incredible rate of twenty an hour. Seeing such horror Carter went out into the open bush outside the camp where he heard a whimper and walking towards the sound found the young girl resting on the ground. A vulture settled down nearby and Carter waited twenty minutes hoping it would spread its wings allowing him to snap a better picture. When the bird didn’t comply he snapped the now infamous shot and then shooed away the vulture. Distraught at not being able to help any of the people at Ayod he sat under a tree and cried in despair.
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Controversy

Returning from Ayod Carter was able to sell the image to the New York Times who published it on March 26, 1993. Almost immediately people phoned and wrote to the newspaper asking about the fate of the small girl. When it was learned that the journalist didn’t help the girl and that her fate was unknown people accused him of exploiting the desperate scene even though at the briefing in Sudan the journalists were warned that touching any of the famine victims was strictly forbidden. American papers like the St. Petersburg (The Florida city) Times slammed Carter saying “The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering, might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene.” Carter took the criticism harshly and spiralled into depression and drug use.

Kevin Carter

Carter was born in 1960 in South Africa during the height of apartheid. As a child, he saw how the injustice at how the state dealt with blacks and became outraged. He got a job as a photographer and quickly made a name for himself when he took a number of pictures of the anti-apartheid demonstrations and violent incidents in South Africa. He quickly fell into a group of like-minded individuals and “They put themselves in face of danger, were arrested numerous times, but never quit. They literally were willing to sacrifice themselves for what they believed in,” says American photojournalist James Nachtwey, who often worked with Carter and his group of friends.
Travelling in groups for safety Carter and his three friends Ken Oosterbroek, Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva covered the intense violence of the country as groups vied for power and fought the apartheid state. They became infamous for getting in the thick of things and were known as the The Bang-Bang Club
.
Carter had a number of pictures published but what he was seeing in the violence of the townships was affecting his mental stability. He resorted to drugs to dull the pain and to forget the horrors he saw. He found a brief respite after winning the 1994 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Feature Photography and was headhunted by the prestigious photo agencies but after a number of bungled assignments, the death of Bang Bang member Ken Oosterbroek and mounting debts he became even more depressed and despondent. On Wednesday, July 27, 1994, Carter drove his vehicle to his childhood neighborhood ran a hose from the exhaust to the cab and killed himself via carbon monoxide poisoning. His suicide note wrote that he was “depressed . . . without phone . . . money for rent . . . money for child support . . . money for debts . . . money!!! . . . I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain . . . of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners . . . ” And then this: “I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.”

Pictures from other Wars

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Escaping over the Taedong Bridge

Behind the camera: Max Desfor
Where: A bridge on the Taedong River that runs through the city of Pyongyang, North Korea
Photo Summary: Labelled Flight of Refugees Across Wrecked Bridge in Korea the image shows refugees fleeing the North Koreans over a bridge on the Taedong River
Picture Taken: December 4, 1950

Late 1950 in the Korean War saw the direct entry of China into the Korean War. North Korean forces along with huge numbers of Chinese reinforcements not only broke the United Nations advance but sent them reeling. American forces, who made up the most of the United Nations forces, started the longest retreat in U.S. military history. As UN forces retreated so to did Korean civilians, with thousands fleeing from the advancing communist forces. Near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang AP photographer Max Desfor took this picture on a freezing December day as Korean refugees struggled across the ruined bridge. The image went on to win the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for photography.

Covering Korea

When he heard war had broken out in Korea 36-year-old Max Desfor volunteered at his work in the AP news service to cover the war. His supervisor initially tried to dissuade him from going as he didn’t think the war last two weeks. Desfor persisted and joined United Nations forces as they retreated from the North Koreans in the initial stages of the War. He was free to roam the various army groups and remembers that “embedding was not a term we used in Korea. We were not directed as to whom to go with. We were completely on our own.
He took part in a number of operations and after the hugely successful Inchon landing that forced the North Koreans into retreat, he took part in a parachute jump with the 187th Regimental combat team. “It was just about mid-way from Seoul to Pyongyang when I heard of a parachute jump that was going to take place… it was incredible – what an experience it is to make a parachute jump,” said the photographer. Even though the United Nations had by late 1950 occupied most of North Korea the direct involvement of China into the war changed everything. A string of battles broke the UN advance and they forced to retreat before the combined forces of the Chinese and North Koreans.

Taking the photo

Retreating with United Nations forces Desfor remembers stumbling upon an incredible scene in the freezing weather of December of 1950. In a the book Remembering the Forgotten War Desfor recalls:

I liberated a jeep from someone and joined the retreat. With me were [Tom Lambert (AP) and Homer Bigart(NY Times)] and an army signal corpsman. We crossed the Taedong River on a pontoon bridge that had just been hastily erected by the army engineers … On the south side of the river … [civilians] were walking across where the ice was solid and clogged the river. A little farther upstream, where the water was still open, they were crossing in small boats. As we jeeped farther southward … I saw what had been a sturdy span across the river, obviously recently destroyed by aerial bombs … with Koreans fleeing from the north bank of the Taedong River, crawling through and into and above and onto the broken-down bridge, it was like ants crawling through the girders. They carried what little possessions they had on their heads or strapped to their shoulders, and on the north side I saw thousands more lined up waiting to do the same thing, waiting to crawl and join the rest of them.

Desfor actually had trouble working his camera due to the plummeting temperatures. Falling off the bridge into the freezing river was likely a death sentence yet the thousands of refugees kept streaming across the bridge. Years after the war Desfor was struck by the “deathly silence” of the scene. The reporters continued on their way to what was left of the airport and put his film on the last Air Force Plane. He could have been evacuated with his film but decided to keep reporting the retreat. He did, however, get word to Bill Achatz the photo editor in AP Tokyo to look out for the film. Achatz got the film and transmitted it to the States on December 5, 1950.

Max Desfor

Desfor was born in 1914 and was an Associated Press photographer. He covered the Pacific Theater during World War II and was one of the photographers that photographed the Enola Gay crew when it returned from the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing. He was also able to record the Japanese surrender in 1945. After World War II he covered the Indonesian National Revolution in 1946 and the Indian Pakistan Kashmir War in 1947. In 1950 he returned to America after being stationed with his family in Rome, Italy. When war broke out he volunteered to cover the war taking a number of photos but it was this image that won him a Pulitzer Prize. In 1936 he married Clara Mehl until 1994 when she was taken from him in a horrible car accident. He lived another two decades after his wife’s death, dying himself at his Silver Spring, Maryland home on February 19, 2018, at the age of 104.

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Pictures from other Wars

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Falling Soldier

Behind the camera: Robert Capa
Where: It was for decades thought that the shot was taken at Cerro Muriano on the Cordoba Front. However new research has determined that the photo was taken 30 miles (50 km) away, near Espejo, a Cordoban town
Photo Summary: A Spanish Republican (Loyalist) soldier supposedly the moment he is struck by a bullet. The soldier was identified as Federico Borrell García based on the assumption the photo was taken at Cerro Muriano.
Picture Taken: September 5, 1936 around 5:00PM

Robert Capa, a photo journalist, arrived in Spain in August 1936 to cover the Spanish Civil War, which had broken out a few weeks before. During his coverage as a war photographer, he took the famous Falling Soldier image. The image came to symbolize the Civil War between the Spanish government and General Francisco Franco’s fascist rebels. In World War II Capa would later take another famous image on the D-day Normandy beaches.

Taking the photo

 

The subject of the photo taken before his "death shot". He is standing on the far left

The original title was Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936. The Falling Soldier was first published in the September 23, 1936, issue of the French magazine Vu. The Vu article read, “With lively step, breasting the wind, clenching their rifles, they ran down the slope covered with thick stubble. Suddenly their soaring was interrupted, a bullet whistled — a fratricidal bullet — and their blood was drunk by their native soil.” There was no mention in the article on where the picture was taken. Then on July 12, 1937, Life magazine published an article with the Capa image and the caption, “Robert Capa’s camera catches a Spanish soldier the instant he is dropped by a bullet through the head in front of Córdoba.”

Robert Capa

Robert Capa was born on October 22, 1913. He was born with the name Endre Ernő Friedmann in Budapest, Hungary. When he was 18 he left Hungary for Germany but when the Nazi’s took power he emigrated again to Paris. It from Paris that he went to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War. After Franco defeated the Republic Capa returned to France until the Nazi invasion upon where he left for America. He went on to become a celebrated war photographer covering five different wars: the Spanish Civil War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II across Europe (He was the only “enemy alien” photographer for the Allies), the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the First Indochina War. His two most famous pictures are the Fallen Solider and his image of the 1944 D-day Normandy invasion. In 1947, Capa co-founded Magnum Photos with, among others, the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Magnum Photos was the first cooperative agency for worldwide freelance photographers. In 1947 Capa travelled to the Soviet Union with his friend, John Steinbeck. When he was leaving the country Soviet officials wanted to look through his undeveloped images. Capa refused to give them access unless Yevgeny Khaldei developed them. Capa had befriended the photographer while the two covered the Potsdam Conference and the Nuremberg Trials together. Both men were hard-drinkers and recognized as playboy lady killers.
On May 25, 1954, at 2:55 p.m. Capa was with a French regiment in Vietnam when he left his jeep to take some photos. While walking up the road he stepped on a land-mine and lost his leg. He was quickly rushed to a small field hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival due to massive trauma and loss of blood.
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Faked?

The hand of the solider supposedly showing his hand in a death grip.

The hand of the solider supposedly showing his hand in a death grip.

Starting in the 70s historians began to question the authenticity of, Fallen Solider image. Much of the confusion revolves around Capa’s inexperience as a photographer. The Spanish Civil war was his first and he often didn’t caption or take notes about where and when he took his photos. His editors many times had to guess where his pictures were taken. Further complicating things is that there is no negative of “Falling Soldier” known to exist.
The first accusations came from O.D. Gallagher, a South African-born journalist who was also covering the war. In an interview he gave for the book, The First Casualty: From the Crimea to Vietnam; The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth Maker (1975) Gallagher claims that “at one stage of the war he and Capa were sharing a hotel room. … there had been little action for several days, and Capa and others complained to the Republican officers that he could not get any pictures. Finally … a Republican officer told them he would detail some troops to go with Capa to some trenches nearby, and they would stage some manoeuvres for them to photograph.” However, Gallagher’s account was discounted when in a later interview for another book the 1978 Jorge Lewinski work, The Camera at War, Gallagher claimed that Franco’s troops, not Republican ones, had staged the photo. Controversy has continued to surround the image. The most recent accusations have been levelled by research carried out by José Manuel Susperregui for his book “Shadows of Photography”.
Susperregui by studying the background images of the surrounding hillsides was able to determine that the image took place near a village called Espejo. There was some intense combat near Espejo in late September but no fighting occurred around the 5th of that month when Capa was in the region. This lead Susperregui to conclude that the photo was staged because there were no battles when the picture was taken. Capa’s supporters have replied that the image might be of a sniper hit behind enemy lines but Susperregui disregards these criticisms because there was no documented use of snipers on that battlefront.
When the Gallagher debate emerged the issue was resolved when in August 1996, Rita Grosvenor, a British journalist reported that Spanish historians were able to determine that on September 5, 1936, the only soldier that was killed in battle at Cerro Muriano was one Federico Borrell García. Borrell’s younger brother, Everisto, confirmed the identification. However, Susperregui in his research noted that the Cerro Muriano battleground was in “a wooded area, with century-old trees,” not at all like the open hillside shown in Capa’s photograph. He backs this up with an obscure anarchist magazine article first published in 1937 that states Borrell was hit while positioned “behind a tree”. The article quotes fellow soldiers saying they remember that “I can still see him stretched out behind the tree that served as his barricade, with his unruly hair falling over his face and a trickle of blood dripping from his mouth.”
Magnum Photos the company that Mr. Capa was a co-founder of has used the 1996 revelation of the identity Federico Borrell García as the final proof that the photo was authentic. Although they have not responded to Susperregui’s accusation there has been some recent forensic evidence that supports the photo is indeed one of a man dying.
When asked to view the images, Captain Robert L. Franks, the chief homicide detective of the Memphis Police Department, made an interesting observation. Zooming in on the left hand you can observe that the fingers form a claw with fingers curled towards the palm. This indicates that there is some sort of muscle spasm. It is almost impossible for any person to resist the impulse of while falling to splay your fingers and stick out your wrist to break your fall. To claim that Capa trained the man to fake that reflex seems unlikely.

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Pictures from other Wars

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Afghan Eyes Girl

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

Sharbat Gula (Pashto: شربت گلا “sweetwater flower girl”) (Sharbat is pronounced as Sherbet in English) has only been photographed twice in her life. Once by Steve McCurry when he took her picture and again when he tracked her down almost 20 years later. Sharbat’s haunting eyes which got her on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic Magazine were not touched up in any way, there was no strobes or extra lighting used to take the shot. The cover became one of National Geographic most popular covers and came to represent the plight of Afghan refugees at the time.

Covering Afghanistan

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.
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Tracking Sharbat


Afghanistan Pakistan eyes then and now

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.

Sharbat Gula

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

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.

Consent Controversy


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Afghan Wars

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Iraqi Soldier

Iraqi ManBehind the camera: Ken Jarecke
Where: A lone truck on a highway heading south to Kuwait from Southern Iraq
Photo Summary: (the corpse) … had been burned alive … I don’t know who he was or what he did. I don’t know if he was a good man, a family man or a bad guy or a terrible soldier or anything like that. But I do know that he fought for his life and thought it was worth fighting for.– Ken Jarecke
Picture Taken: Hours before the 1991 Gulf war ceasefire on 28 February 1991

Hours before the 1991 Gulf war ceasefire that would mark the end of the conflict, photographer Ken Jarecke was inside Iraq covering the War. Devastated from a month of heavy American air strikes, the Iraqi army was in total chaos and retreat. American forces had free reign over southern Iraq. Travelling with a US army public affairs officer, Jarecke was heading south to Kuwait when he came across a single truck burnt out in the middle of a double lane highway. When the Public Affairs escort asked why he would take such a gruesome picture Ken Jarecke said the first thing that came to mind, “If I don’t make pictures like this, people like my mother will think what they see in war is what they see in movies.”

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Gulf War

I think people should see this
-Ken Jarecke

Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait in August 1990 setting in motion the American-led action to drive him out. Cash-starved after his almost 8-year long war with Iran, Saddam thought he could wipe out a large part of his huge wartime debt by simply invading one of his biggest debtors, Kuwait. President Bush Sr. was quickly able to put together a Coalition of some 30 countries in an effort to force Saddam out of Kuwait. When Bush Sr. felt all efforts at diplomacy had failed, on Jan 16, 1991, he started a devastating air campaign. Flying some 1000 sorties a day, Coalition air forces neutralized most of Iraq’s air force and air defenses. After they ruled the skies the Coalition forces turned to Iraq’s army and the countries infrastructure. Nothing was safe as Jets, bombers, and helicopters roamed Iraqi skies searching for targets. When the land invasion was launched on Feb 24, the almost month-long air bombardment proved it’s worth as those Iraqi units who didn’t flee, surrendered in mass, anxious to get away from Coalition Air Strikes. By the end of the war, almost 100 hours after it had begun, Coalition Forces had captured thousands of demoralized Iraqi troops.

Clean War

The Gulf War had a great deal of TV coverage, as the technology to transmit live images around the world was used extensively. While there was a lot of TV footage of the war, the coverage, and media freedom was heavily restricted. The Pentagon was wary of the media after Vietnam where the press was given basically unrestricted access to the war, something many in the Pentagon felt lost them the war. To avoid a repeat during the Gulf War, tightly controlled press pools of government-approved reporters and military escorts for any field reporting were the norms. Supposedly this was to protect from sensitive information leaking out to Iraqi generals tuned to CNN but in reality, it allowed the military to restrict information given to journalists and thus to the general public. It was under these tight conditions that Ken Jarecke found himself reporting. When he found the burnt Iraqi man on Iraqi Highway 08 he was with a military escort but as he would recall for the BBC:

He didn’t try to stop me, he let me go and I just went over [to the wreckage]. … [the burn victim] might have been the driver of the truck, he might have been the passenger, but he had been burned alive and it appears as though he’s trying to lift himself up and out of the truck.
I don’t know who he was or what he did. I don’t know if he was a good man, a family man or a bad guy or a terrible soldier or anything like that.
But I do know that he fought for his life and thought it was worth fighting for. And he’s frozen, he’s burned in place just kind of frozen in time in this last-ditch effort to save his life…. I thought there might have been better pictures. I literally shot two frames and moved on to other things and I didn’t really think a whole lot about it….

Too Graphic

The U.S. Military Joint Information Bureau (JIB) is the only department allowed to interface between the military and the media. When Jarecke’s film was developed the Military JIB had objections about the picture going over the wire as it was too graphic. A compromise was met and the picture was allowed to pass after a warning about its graphic nature was placed preceding the picture. Yet the military didn’t need to worry about the picture getting public because when it reached the AP office in New York it was pulled off the wire. Even though AP office workers made copies for their own personal use, they deemed it too sensitive for anyone else. It was too gory for editors of other newspapers part of the press pool to see, too graphic for them to make their own decision on whether or not to run the image. This is why many in the US market didn’t see the picture until much later.

No such decision was made in England and the London Observer ran the picture along with The Guardian. The picture naturally caused a debate in the UK over how graphic pictures should be. Jarecke would later firmly support the republishing of his picture in every country stating:

“I think people should see this, … If we’re big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it.”

He also thought the controversy was healthy as it encouraged debate, about England’s involvement in the war, “Is this something we want to be involved in?” Jarecke said. U.S. news media would later defend their actions pointing out that when editors didn’t self-censor themselves, the public was outraged. As shown when outlets that published the footage of Somalis dragging the body of an American Solider through the streets were flooded with letters and calls of complaints. The Gulf War is now remembered as a “clean war” of precision-guided bombs and limited “collateral damage”. Yet it wasn’t clean because of the estimates of Iraqi soldiers killed ranged from 60,000 to 200,000 dead; 30,000 in the 100 hours of the ground offensive alone. The death count for the civilians of Iraq is also hard to pinpoint, but estimates of those who died as a direct result of the war 3,500 with around 100,000 dying that year from “war-induced adverse health effects,” such as the lack of clean water.
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VJday Times Square Kiss

Behind the camera: Alfred Eisenstaedt although Lt Victor Jorgensen took a similar image
Where: Times Square, New York City, USA
Photo Summary: Many claims to be the Nurse and Sailor shown in the picture. Former nurses Edith Cullen Shain and Greta Friedman are the most likely Nurses and George Mendonça and Carl Muscarello are the most likely Sailors.
Picture Taken: August 14, 1945. Victory in Japan day is actually Aug 15, 1945 but news broke out at Times Square on August 14 because of the International date-line and time zone changes.

America had been at war for almost 4 years, Germany had finally been knocked out of the conflict three months earlier but Japan still fought on. Finally after nightly bombing raids and two cities wiped out by Atomic explosions, Imperial Japan surrendered. News traveled like wild fire and on August 14, 1945 America celebrated! One of the most famous pictures of World War II, Alfred Eisenstaedt captured this image in the revelry at New York’s Time Square.

Taking the picture

Actual photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt

When news broke out of Japan’s surrender Alfred Eisenstaedt ran to Times Square taking pictures as he went. Suddenly he saw a sailor who was “‘running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight. Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn’t make any difference. None of the pictures that were possible pleased me. Then, suddenly in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse … Although I am 92, my brain is 30 years old.’ To prove it he recalled that to shoot that victory kiss he used 1/125 second exposure, aperture between 5.6 and 8 on Kodak Super Double X film.” Eisenstaedt snapped four shots of the kissing couple before moving on to get other pictures. A navy photographer, Lt Victor Jorgensen, was standing very close to Eisenstaedt and took a similar image. As Jorgensen was a federal employee his images are in the public domain while Eisenstaedt’s are copyrighted.

Who is in the Picture?

Original letter to Eisenstaedt

On that crazy August day, Alfred Eisenstaedt got so caught up in the excitement that was going on in Times Square that he didn’t write down who the sailor and nurse were. Since that day many have stepped forward claiming to be the two in the picture.

Edith Cullen Shain

Edith Cullen Shain was a Nurse that was taking part in the celebration when she was kissed by a sailor. She said she wasn’t surprised as “at that time in my life everyone was kissing me.” Even though she knew it was herself in the image she didn’t step forward until the late 70s when she saw an article in the LA Times with Eisenstaedt. He was talking about the photo and after reading it she decided to come forward. In the 40s Edith ” didn’t think it was dignified [to be photographed kissing] but times have changed” so she wrote this letter to Eisenstaedt:

Dear Mr, Eisenstaedt:
Now that I’m 60 – it’s fun to admit that I’m the nurse in your famous shot “of the amorous sailor celebrating V.E. Day by kissing a nurse on New York’s Broadway.”
The article in the Los Angles Times, which described your talents, stimiulated the recall of the scene on Broadway. I had left Doctors’ Hospitial and wanted to be part of the celebration but the amorous sailor and a subsequent soldier motivated [me] into the next opening of the subway.
I wish I could have stored that jubulation and amour for use P.R.N. [“P.R.N.” is a medical term meaning “as needed”]
Mr Eisenstaedt, is it possible for me to obtain a print of that picture? I would be most apprecitive. I regret not having meet you on your last trip to Beverly Hills.
Perhaps next time. If not – will understand because “it’s not only hard to catch him … its hard to keep up with him”
Have fun, Fondly,
Edith Shain

New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan. They threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square.

Lt. Victor Jorgensen’s version of the photo

Of all the nurses claiming to be “the one” Eisenstaedt has backed Shain describing her as a “vivacious, lovely woman.”. Shain died at her home on June 20, 2010. She was 91 years old.

Greta Friedman

Greta Friedman claims the photo is of her but concedes that Shain was probably there, “There’s no doubt that Mrs. Shain was there and got kissed … because every female was grabbed and kissed by men in uniform.” But, says Greta of Frederick, Md., “it definitely is my shape. I used a comb in my hair. I had a purse like the one in the nurse’s hand. I remember being kissed by a sailor, right on Broadway.” Of the women, only Greta is high enough to be the Nurse to Mendonsa’s sailor. She died in 2016 at the age of 92.

Barbara Sokol

In the kissing frenzy in Times Square, Barbara Sokol recalls, she got “an ucky, sloppy kiss” and was wiping her mouth with a handkerchief when up walked another guy who yelled, “‘Gotcha’ I said, ‘No! No! No!’ and when he bent me back I thought, ‘My God, I’m gonna fall'” Barbara a nurse in Derby, Conn. She has always claimed that the Nurse was her and has kept a cut out of the picture framed, “my one claim to fame.”

George Mendonsa

Rita Mendonsa future wife of George Mendonsa behind the kissing couple

George Mendonsa or George Mendonça, a native of Newport, Rhode Island, was named by the Naval War College in August 2005 as the Sailor in the picture due some compelling evidence including picture analysis by the Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab (MERL) in Cambridge, MA, matching scars and tattoo spotted by photo experts and the testimony of one Richard M Benson a photo analysis expert and professor of photographic studies plus the former Dean of the School of Arts at Yale University. Mr. Benson has stated that “It is therefore my opinion, based upon a reasonable degree of certainty, that George Mendonsa is the sailor in Mr. Eisenstaedt’s famous photograph.” George, on leave from the USS THE SULLIVANS (DD-537), was watching a movie with his date, future wife Rita Mendonsa, at Radio City Music Hall when the doors opened and people started screaming the war was over. George and Rita took part in the partying on the street but when they couldn’t get into the packed bars decided to walk down the street. It then that George saw a nurse walk by and took her into his arms and kissed her, “I had quite a few drinks that day and I considered her one of the troops–she was a nurse.” In one of the four pictures that Eisenstaedt took you can actually see Rita in the background.

Mr. Mendonsa’s daughter, Sharon Molleur, reported that her father suffered a seizure and died on Sunday, February 17, 2019, after a fall at a care home in Middletown, Rhode Island. He was 95 years old.

Alfred Eisenstadt: Sailor Kiss, VJ Day, 1945

With Color

Other Sailors

Bill Swicegood, Clarence “Bud” Harding, Wallace C. Fowler and others have claimed to be the sailor but none have the evidence that supports Mendonsa’s claim. Even with all the evidence supporting Mendonsa as the sailor ex-NYPD officer, Carl Muscarello still insists that he is the kisser, “I am 100 percent sure. There is no doubt in my mind.” While Muscarello doesn’t have scientific proof behind the claim he does have the backing of the Edith Shain who the photographer, Alfred Eisenstaedt, backed before he passed away. Another supporter of Muscarello was his mother, “When the magazine came out, my mother called me and said I was in LIFE magazine. You couldn’t see my face, but she knew the birthmark on the back of my right hand. She said, ‘Don’t you know you shouldn’t be kissing strange women? You’ll get a disease.’ I said, ‘Mom, the lady’s a nurse.’ She said, ‘They’re the worst kind, always around sick people.’ “. Muscarello who lives down in Florida was recently in the news when he and his son tackled a golf club-wielding home invader who surprised the family while eating breakfast.

As of 1995 LIFE magazine has never identified who was in the picture.

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Alfred Eisenstaedt (December 6, 1898, Dirschau, West Prussia (now Tczew, Poland) – August 24, 1995, Jackson Heights, Queens, New York) was a photographer and photojournalist, best remembered for his photograph capturing the celebration of V-J Day. Eisenstaedt immigrated to the United States in 1935, where he lived the rest of his life. Eisenstaedt worked as a photographer for Life magazine from 1936 to 1972. His photos of news events and celebrities, such as Sophia Loren and Ernest Hemingway, were featured on more than 90 Life covers.

#MeToo

The advent of the #MeToo movement caused society to reevaluate this iconic kiss. After the “Kisser” Mendonsa died a statue of the kiss was vandalized, with someone spraying #MeToo on the nurse’s leg. Several of nurses recall being kissed against their will that day but write it off as being caught up in the moment. BBC reported that “After Ms Zimmer’s death in 2016, her son told the New York Times his mother did not view the kiss negatively.”

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D-day soldier in the water

Behind the camera: Robert Capa
Where: ‘Easy Red’ beach on the American Omaha beach of Normandy
Photo Summary: Edward Regan or Huston “Hu” Riley lying in the surf while trying to make it to Normany’s ‘Easy Red’ beach
Picture Taken: June 6, 1944 (D-Day)

Es una cosa muy seria (This is a very serious business)
-Robert Capa during D-day

Robert Capa had made a name for himself as a war photographer that had covered the Spanish civil war and the Second Sino-Japanese War. To escape the Nazi’s he moved to New York where he became a photographer for the Allies. On D-Day June 6, 1944, the Allies started their much-anticipated invasion of mainland Europe. Hitting the beaches with American troops Capa, while dodging intense German fire, was able to take 106 pictures before returning to London to develop his photos. Unfortunately, an incident in the London photo development labs caused all but 11 of his 106 pictures to be destroyed. This shot of a soldier in the water is considered the best and shows the true nature of the Normandy invasion. Steven Spielberg was so inspired by this shot that for the Saving Private Ryan movie he tried to duplicate the conditions shown in the photo.

Taking the photo

Life magazine published the surviving 11 pictures with a caption that explained that the “immense excitement of [the] moment made photographer Capa move his camera and blur [his] picture.” Capa always resented the implication but it probably influenced the naming of his 1947 memoir, Slightly Out of Focus. In his memoir he remembers that day:

The flat bottom of our barge hit the earth of France … The boatswain lowered the steel-covered barge front, and there, between the grotesque designs of steel obstacles sticking out of the water, was a thin line of land covered with smoke — our Europe, the ‘Easy Red’ beach.
My beautiful France looked sordid and uninviting, and a German machine gun, spitting bullets around the barge, fully spoiled my return. The men from my barge waded in the water. Waist-deep, with rifles ready to shoot, with the invasion obstacles and the smoking beach in the background gangplank to take my first real picture of the invasion. The boatswain, who was in an understandable hurry to get the hell out of there, mistook my picture-taking attitude for explicable hesitation and helped me make up my mind with a well-aimed kick in the rear. The water was cold, and the beach still more than a hundred yards away. The bullets tore holes in the water around me, and I made for the nearest steel obstacle. A soldier got there at the same time, and for a few minutes, we shared its cover. He took the waterproofing off his rifle and began to shoot without much aiming at the smoke-hidden beach. The sound of his rifle gave him enough courage to move forward, and he left the obstacle to me. It was a foot larger now, and I felt safe enough to take pictures of the other guys hiding just like I was.
I felt a new kind of fear shaking my body from toe to hair, and twisting my face. [seeing a landing craft] I did not think and I didn’t decide it, I just stood up and ran toward the boat. I knew that I was running away. I tried to turn but couldn’t face the beach and told myself, ‘I am just going to dry my hands on that boat.’

Inside the landing craft, he returned to the ships further offshore and promptly fell asleep with the undeveloped 106 pictures that he had taken with his two Contax cameras. Upon arriving back in the UK he quickly sent his four rolls of film off to London and with his pictures off and his courage restored he tried to make it back to the beaches.
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Lab disaster


Capa The Magnificent Eleven

Of all the photographers sent out with the Allied invasion, only Capa had taken any sort of photos that showed what looked like the invasion that was being broadcast over the radio. Other photographers were either foiled by weather from taking any decent shots or landed on beaches that faced little German opposition. When Capa’s images came in Life editors was desperate for any type of action shots and when the package finally arrived in London orders were to rush the development.
The pressure got to the LIFE staff and John Morris remembers that a young boy, Dennis Banks, was given the task to develop the film. As LIFE staff started ringing asking where the images were Morris remembers that the young Dennis came running up the stairs and into his office, crying. “They’re ruined! Ruined! Capa’s films are all ruined!” Dennis then proceeded to choke out an explanation that he had hung the film to dry but in order to speed up the process he had closed the doors to the drying room. Without ventilation, the emulsion had melted most of the exposures. However, on further inspection, it was revealed that not all were ruined as on the end of the fourth roll 11 images were salvageable. It was these images that were the only record of fierce German resistance the Americans suffered during the Normandy invasion.

Robert Capa


Some of the Capa 11 used by LIFE
Robert Capa was born on October 22, 1913. He was born with the name Endre Ernő Friedmann in Budapest, Hungary. When he was 18 he left Hungary for Germany but when the Nazi’s took power he emigrated again to Paris. It was from Paris that he went to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War. After Franco defeated the Republic Capa returned to France until the Nazi invasion upon where he left for America. He went on to become a celebrated war photographer covering five different wars: the Spanish Civil War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II across Europe (He was the only “enemy alien” photographer for the Allies), the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the First Indochina War. His two most famous pictures are the, Falling Soldier and this image of the 1944 Dday Normandy invasion. In 1947, Capa co-founded Magnum Photos with, among others, the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Magnum Photos was the first cooperative agency for worldwide freelance photographers. In 1947 Capa travelled to the Soviet Union with his friend, John Steinbeck. When he was leaving the country Soviet officials wanted to look through his undeveloped images. Capa refused to give them access unless Yevgeny Khaldei developed them. Capa had befriended the photographer while the two covered the Potsdam Conference and the Nuremberg Trials together. Both men were hard-drinkers and recognized as playboy lady killers.
On May 25, 1954, at 2:55 p.m. Capa was with a French regiment in Vietnam when he left his jeep to take some photos. While walking up the road he stepped on a land-mine and lost his leg. He was quickly rushed to a small field hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival due to massive trauma and loss of blood.

Who is in the picture

The man lying in the surf was identified as Edward Regan. Regan remembers that he, “was in the second wave and landed at H-hour plus forty minutes … there was so much chaos and mass confusion that one was reduced to a state of almost complete immobilization” Regan was in Company K of the 116th Infantry Regiment’s 3rd Battalion. However the daughter of another soldier, Alphonse Joseph Arsenault, claims that the person in Capa’s photo is in fact her father that is lying in the surf and historian Lowell Getz claims that his research shows that the man is Huston Riley. Riley claims that Capa actually helped him out of the water, “I was surprised to see him there. I saw the press badge and I thought, ‘What the hell is he doing here?’ ” he said. “He helped me out of the water and then he took off down the beach for some more photos.”
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We Can Do It!

Behind the camera: J. Howard Miller
Where: Miller’s Studio
Photo Summary: A poster put out by the US government to encourage women to head out into the workforce
Picture Taken: 1943
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee, J. Howard Miller

While other girls attend their fav’rite cocktail bar
Sippin’ dry martinis, munchin’ caviar
There’s a girl who’s really puttin’ them to shame
Rosie – is her name
All the day long, whether rain or shine
She’s a part of the Assembly Line
She’s makin’ history, workin’ for Victory
Rosie! The Riveter

-Rosie The Riveter was written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, America entered the war. Companies who had been already producing some war material for the Allies switched to full wartime mobilization. As factories stepped up production, they faced an immediate problem, manpower shortages. Men working in the American labor force left by the millions to serve their country in the military. Companies who had just signed lucrative contracts with the government desperately needed workers and they turned to as yet untapped resource, American Women.

Women in the Workforce

Women in the workforce were not a new thing, especially for minorities and the poor. These working women though were mostly restricted to the traditional female professions. The attitudes of the time placed the ideal role of a woman as a homemaker raising the kids. Compounding this way of thinking was the high unemployment during the Depression. Most saw women in the workforce as taking jobs from unemployed men. The American government seeing that it would have to smash these mind-sets launched a media campaign to get women into the labor force.

[bigquote quote=”Do the job he left behind” author=” American government slogan”]
With slogans like, “Do the job he left behind” or “The more women at work, the sooner we will win”, the government launched a media blitz intended to get more ladies into the factories. The “US Office of War information” even put out a “Magazine war guide” for publishers. It had ideas, slogans, and information on how to recruit women workers. Publishers were told to write articles depicting work as glamorous, with high pay but most of all emphasizing patriotism, doing all you can do. Articles soon appeared talking about how because of the war it would not reflect poorly on the man that he was not the sole moneymaker, that a family with a working wife was a patriotic family. Posters and ads of the time also stressed that the female in the factories scenario was temporary, to allay the fear that women were taking Men’s jobs. While making more money was also pressed as a plus, the government warned that the more money coming in shouldn’t be overemphasized or else women might go crazy with spending and cause inflation.

The Empowerment Posters

Part of the campaign was a series of propaganda posters encouraging all Americans to buckle down and do their part. An example of this was a poster created by Westinghouse War Production Co-Ordinating Committee artist J. Howard Miller. It was simply entitled “We Can Do it”. He based the poster on a United Press International (UPI) picture taken of Geraldine Doyle working at a factory. At the time of the poster’s release, the woman pictured wasn’t named Rosie. The Rosie name came later when a popular patriotic song called “Rosie the Riveter” was released. The song was written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb and recorded by big band leader Kay Kyser. The name Rosie still wasn’t cemented as a household name until the Norman Rockwell Cover on the Saturday Evening Post came out.
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Feminist Icon?

Recent research has been done on the purpose behind the “We Can Do it” poster. While modern culture has assigned the poster a symbol of women’s rights the original purpose may have been much different. Analysis by Gwen Sharp and Lisa Wade have put forward the theory that the poster wasn’t created to be a feminist symbol rather it was a short run poster hoping to promote management and prevent strike action. They note that the poster has instructions in the bottom left corner telling to hang the poster from Feb 15 to Feb 28 [1943]. Also, a small company badge on her shirt collar is noticeable, so rather than being a poster for the general public Sharp and Wade claim that it was an internal poster for employees that already worked for the company not a call-up for more women from the general public.

the message wasn’t designed to empower workers, female or otherwise; it was meant, as were the other posters in the series, to control Westinghouse’s workforce … Images of happy workers expressing support for the war effort and praising workers’ abilities served as propaganda meant to persuade workers to identify themselves, management, and Westinghouse itself as a unified team with similar interests and goals … Kimble and Olson write: “…by addressing workers as ‘we,’ the pronoun obfuscated sharp controversies within labor over communism, red-baiting, discrimination, and other heartfelt sources of divisiveness.” Indeed, the authors note that such measures were effective, since “patriotism could be invoked to circumvent strikes and characterize workers’ unrest as unAmerican.” Today, we see the poster through a lens shaped by what came later, particularly Second Wave feminism.
–Gwen Sharp and Lisa Wade

Rockwell’s Rossie





The May 29, 1943, edition featured Rockwell’s take on women doing their part for the war effort. Rockwell painted a statuesque factory worker named Rosie who contemplating the greater things in life while eating lunch is crushing a copy of Mein Kempf under her feet. Rockwell based the image on Michelangelo’s depiction of the prophet Isaiah in the Sistine Chapel. Like many of his painting, he used a model from Arlington, Vermont the small town where he spent most of his time. The 19-year-old telephone operator, Mary Doyle (later Married as Mary Keefe) posed for the picture and was quite surprised when Rockwell turned her small frame into the muscled Rosie seen on the cover.

Real life Rosies

The popular Rockwell cover and hit song prompted the government to launch a campaign promoting the fictional character of “Rosie the Riveter”. Rosie was seen as the ideal woman worker: loyal, efficient, patriotic, and pretty. Media were encouraged to go along and soon they started to find their own real-life Roses. One such Rosie was Rose Hicker, who with her rivet partner was reported to have broken a record for driving rivets into a Grumman “Avenger” Bomber at the Eastern Aircraft Company in Tarrytown, New York. Hollywood star Walter Pidgeon discovered his own Rosie when touring the FORD Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Michigan. He found a Rose Monroe riveting plane parts together, he quickly had her moved from the factory floor to the film stage, playing herself riveting in war bond films.

The similarities between the “We can do it!” poster and the Rockwell cover ensured that both women were labelled as Rosie. Soon every woman in the workforce was referred to as Rosie. Women who worked in the factories during World War II are still called Rosies. The Miller poster and Rockwell’s cover were seen as the ideal Rosie and each had a huge demand. Yet, Rockwell’s cover was copyrighted which slowed reproduction. Miller’s poster had no restrictions and it was soon on everything, as everybody wanted to show their support for Rosie. The Rockwell cover, while it had helped create the Rosie legend, slowly faded from view and Miller’s “We can do it” poster, rechristened Rosie the Riveter became the image everyone remembers.

Millions of women took up the call to fill the factory the floor’s vacated by the men during World War II. It became so hard to find women to do traditional jobs that many companies had to shut down, for example, some 600 hundred laundries were forced to close due to lack of workers. While women enjoyed the independence and money their jobs brought, after the war as the men started to return home most left or were forced from their jobs. They went either back into the home or into traditional female employment roles but not all left, as after World War II women in the workforce would never dip below pre-war levels.

Geraldine Doyle

For decades Geraldine Doyle, born July 31, 1924, was thought of a woman who inspired Miller’s poster. She has toured the country signing Rosie the Riveter posters. She didn’t make the claim she was Rosie until the 1980s when she found the picture in a 1942 Modern Maturity Magazine. Only 17 when she took the job at a metal pressing plant near Ann Arbor, Michigan she quit after only two weeks upon finding out that another woman had badly injured her hand doing the same job. Doyle loved to play the cello and was worried that the job might cripple her. In 1992 the U.S. Postal service created a stamp with Rosie’s Image. Geraldine Doyle died on December 26, 2010, from complications of her arthritis. Her daughter Stephanie Gregg said that Doyle was quick to correct people who thought she was the original women worker. “She would say that she was the ‘We Can Do It!” girl,” Gregg said. “She never wanted to take anything away from all the Rosie the Riveters who were doing the riveting.”

Naomi Parker Fraley, the real Rosie the Riveter


Naomi Parker Fraley

The image that started it all

When Doyle died in 2010 associate professor of communication at Seton Hall University in New Jersey James Kimble began to see holes in her claim to be the woman who inspired the poster. Central to the identity of Rossie is an uncaptioned photo that is claimed to have inspired J. Howard Miller. After years of research, in 2015, he made a breakthrough when he found a series of photos with the caption that listed the woman in the photo as Naomi Parker Fraley.

Pretty Naomi Parker looks like she might catch her nose in the turret lathe she is operating, [The women wore] safety clothes instead of feminine frills … And the girls don’t mind – they’re doing their part. Glamour is secondary these days.

Naomi Parker Fraley was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in August 1921 to mining engineer Joseph Parker and his wife Esther. Eventually, they had eight children and moved throughout the country following mine work. After America joined WWII 20-year-old Naomi got a job at the Naval Air Station in Alameda with her sister Ada. It was there that a photographer took her picture. She didn’t make the connection until 2011 when she saw learned that the picture was the inspiration of the poster. No one would listen to her claims until Professor Kimble tracked her down to her home in California. When they went public the Omaha World-Herald asked how it felt to finally be known as the real Rosie she shouted through the phone “Victory! Victory! Victory!”

Mrs. Fraley’s first marriage, to Joseph Blankenship, resulted in a son Joseph Blankenship but the marriage ended in divorce. She got married again but her second husband, John Muhlig, died in 1971. Her third husband, Charles Fraley, died in 1998 after 19 years of marriage. On January 20, 2018, Naomi Parker Fraley herself died while living with her sister.

In 2016 in an interview with People Magazine she said: “The women of this country these days need some icons, If they think I’m one, I’m happy.”

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Bloody Saturday

battle of shanghai babyBehind the camera: H.S. ‘Newsreel’ Wong, also known as Wong Hai-Sheng or Wang Xiaoting. News footage was taken with Eyemo newsreel camera, this photograph was taken with his Leica camera.
Where: Platform of the Shanghai South Railway Station
Photo Summary: A crying baby sitting in the ruins of a bombed out train station
Picture Taken: August 28, 1937
This image is in the public domain

During an aggressive bombing raid on Shanghai by the Imperial Japanese army in 1937 untold thousands of Chinese civilians died and the city was largely destroyed. Photographer H.S. “Newsreel” Wong took the iconic photo “Bloody Saturday” which has also been largely referred to as “The battle of Shanghai baby” photo. This photo went on to be voted one of the top ten pictures of the year by “Life” magazine in 1937 and in 2003 appeared in the Time-life book “100 photographs that changed the World”.

The Battle of Shanghai

In 1937 the Battle of Shanghai was the first of the twenty-two major battles to be fought between the Imperial Japanese army of the Empire of Japan and the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China during the Second Sino-Japanese war.
Although air operations commenced on the 14th of August with heavy causalities on both sides, the bloodiest period of the bombing was during the “second phase” of air operations which were conducted from August 23rd to October 26th. It was during this Second phase of combat that the “Bloody Saturday” photo was taken.

Taking the Photo

H.S. “Newsreel” Wong was a cameraman working for the Hearst Metrotone News. On August 28th, he was gathered with many other reporters and cameramen on top of the Butterfield and Swire building to take photos of a supposed incoming bombing raid. By 3 PM no aircraft had been seen so most of the reporters left. Wong remained, however, and at 4 PM 16 Japanese aircraft emerged and then bombed a group of war refugees at Shanghai’s South Station. Wong left the building and quickly took his car to the Station. According to Wong, the level of gore and death was nearly unfathomable. Walking between the bodies Wong, “noticed that [his] shoes were soaked with blood.” He immediately began filming. Wong then claims that he saw two children on the tracks with a woman he presumed was the babies’ mother. A man came and grabbed one child, moving it to the platform, this is when Wong took the iconic shot of the long child, then the man, presumably the father, returned and took the next child, all the while Wong continued shooting as another wave of Japanese aircraft closed in on the ruined area. Wong was going to take the child with him but another survivor took the children. He was never able to determine if it was a boy or a girl and he never saw them again.

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Reaction to the Photo

By the end of 1937, over 140 million people had seen the still black and white image of the child at the station. The photo was used to fan Anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. It was shown to movie audiences during the new-reels and it was also in newspapers and magazines. It caused Senator George Norris to claim that the Japanese were “disgraceful, ignoble, barbarous, and cruel, even beyond the power of language to describe.”

Controversy surrounding the Photo

Another picture with brother being placed on the platform

Another picture from the series that shows another child was rescued
Immediately the Japanese called the photo a fake, and a price of 50,000 USD was placed on Wong’s head (The equivalent of US$ 760,000 in 2011). Other photos were taken by Wong at the same show another child in the frame, along with a man. Wong claims this is the man that was moving the children to safety however the Japanese insisted this was his assistant, Taguchi, arranging the children to be more pitiable and hence photogenic. Another account has it that the man in the photo is an aid worker that posed for the photo and some have even alleged that Wong somehow added smoke to the photographs to make the surrounding damage seem more extensive than it was. A secondary photo of the child exists in which the baby is on a medical stretcher being given first aid by a Chinese boy scout and although this would seem to legitimize Wong’s account it is often not included in discussions even to this day.
Photographer

Wong would go on to continue reporting but due to constant death threats from the Japanese, he was forced to take his family and relocate to Hong Kong. After the war, Wong retired to Taipei, Taiwan and died of diabetes at his home at the age of 81 on March 9, 1981.

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