February 7, 1775  Bringing A Knife to a Gunfight

It is often said that you should never bring a knife to a gunfight.  You probably don’t want to draw a rhetorical popgun, either.  Not if the other guy is carrying a cannon.

In early 1775, Benjamin Franklin was on an extended diplomatic mission to England.  The balance had not yet tipped toward Revolution, though things were headed in that direction.

113An unnamed British military officer felt the need to run his mouth before the Parliament, at the expense of his fellow British subjects in the American colonies.  “Americans are unequal to the People of this Country”, he said, “in Devotion to Women, and in Courage, and worse than all, they are religious”.

On this day in London, February 7, 1775, the man who would be called “The First American” for his early and tireless campaign for colonial unity, published his response.

Franklin himself was not the most religious man, but he reminded his readers that it was the zealous Puritans who rid Great Britain of the hated King Charles I.

Franklin went on to relate a history of the Seven Years’ War, in which the colonial militia were forever saving inept and blundering British regulars from themselves.

“Indiscriminate Accusations against the Absent are cowardly Calumnies”, he wrote, but old Ben saved his best for the crack about American men not liking women.  Franklin noted that the British population was declining at the time, while in the American colonies, numbers were increasing.  American men, he concluded, are clearly more “effectually devoted to the Fair Sex”, than their counterparts across the pond.

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It is often said that you should never bring a knife to a gunfight.  You probably don’t want to draw a rhetorical popgun, either.  Not if the other guy is carrying a cannon.

 

If you enjoyed this “Today in History”, please feel free to re-blog, “like” & share on social media, so that others may find and enjoy it too. Please click the “follow” button on the right, to receive email updates on new articles.  Thank you for your interest, in the history we all share.

February 6, 1788 Founding Documents

That original 2nd amendment, which read “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened”, took effect in 1992 as the 27th amendment, following a ratification period stretching out 202 years, 7 months, and 12 days.

Early discussions of the American experiment in self-government began almost 20 years before the Revolution, with the Albany Congress of 1754, and Benjamin Franklin’s proposed Albany Plan of Union. The 2nd Continental Congress appointed a drafting committee to write our first constitution in 1776, the work beginning on July 12. The finished document was sent to the states for ratification on November 15 of the following year.

ArticlesOfConfederationTwelve of the original thirteen states ratified these “Articles of Confederation” by February, 1779. Maryland held out for another two years, over land claims west of the Ohio River. In 1781, seven months before Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown, the 2nd Continental Congress formally ratified the Articles of Confederation. The young nation’s first governing document.

The document provided for a loose confederation of sovereign states. At the center stood a congress, a unicameral legislature, and that’s about it. There was no Executive, there was no Judiciary.

In theory, Congress had the authority to govern foreign affairs, conduct war, and to regulate currency. In practice, these powers were limited since Congress had no authority to enforce requests made on the states, for either money or manpower.

Manns-Tavern-300x212The Union would probably have broken up, had not the Articles of Confederation been amended or replaced. Twelve delegates from five states met at Mann’s Tavern in Annapolis Maryland in September 1786, to discuss the issue. The decision of the Annapolis Convention was unanimous. Representatives from all the states were invited to send delegates to a constitutional convention in Philadelphia, the following May.

The United States won its independence from England four years earlier, when 55 state delegates convened in Philadelphia to compose a new Constitution.

Delegates from 12 of the 13 original colonies, only Rhode Island abstaining, met at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania State House on May images (19)25, 1787. The building is now known as Independence Hall, the same place where the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation were drafted.

The assembly immediately discarded amending the Articles, crafting in their stead a brilliant Federal system of checks and balances over three months of debate. The Federal Republic envisioned by the framers delegates specific, limited powers to the Federal Government, with authority outside those specific powers devolving to the states.

Even at the convention, there was concern about the larger, more populous states governing at the expense of the smaller ones. The “Connecticut Compromise” solved the problem, creating a bicameral legislature with proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives) and equal representation of the states themselves in the upper house (Senate).

The Constitution was signed by 38 of 41 delegates on September 17, 1787. As dictated by Article VII, the document would become binding following ratifiication by nine of the 13 states.

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Five states: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut, ratified the document in quick succession. Some states objected to the new Constitution, especially Massachusetts, which wanted more protection for basic political rights such as freedom of speech, religion, and of the press. These wanted the document to specify, that those powers left undelegated to the Federal government, were reserved to the states.

A compromise was reached in February, 1788 whereby Massachusetts and other states would ratify the document, with the assurance that such amendments would be immediately proposed.

With these assurances, Massachusetts ratified the Constitution by a two-vote margin on this day in 1788, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. New Hampshire became the ninth state on June 21. The new Constitutional Government would take effect on March 4 of the following year.

82638952-56a9aadd5f9b58b7d0fdcec6On September 25, the first Congress adopted 12 amendments, sending them to the states for ratification.

The states got rid of the first two, so it is that the Congress’ original 3rd amendment became 1st, of what we now call the “Bill of Rights”. Today, the United States Constitution is the oldest written national constitution in operation, in the world.

It’s interesting to note the priorities of that first Congress, as expressed in their original 1st and 2nd amendments. The ones that were thrown out. The first had to do with proportional representation, and would have led us to a 6,000 member House of Representatives, instead of the 435 we currently have. The second most important thing in the world, judging by the priorities of that first Congress, was that any future Congress could not change their own salaries. Any such change could effect only future Congresses.

That original 2nd amendment, stating that “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened”, took effect in 1992 as the 27th amendment, following a ratification period stretching out 202 years, 7 months, and 12 days. One must not not be too hasty about these things.

February 4, 2012 Have a Nice Day

From Betty Boop to the hula hoop, popular culture is always primed and ready to dive into the latest fad.

medals_silver_star_100x200If you were to keyword search “United States Army”, “Silver Star” and “World War II”, you’ll find among a long list of recipients the name of “Ball, Harvey A. HQ, 45th Infantry Division, G.O. No. 281”.

Harvey Ball earned the silver star medal “for Conspicuous Gallantry in Action” in 1945, during the battle for Okinawa. He went on to serve most of his life in the United States Army Reserve, retiring with the rank of Colonel, in 1979.

Twenty years later, Colonel Ball was awarded the “Veteran of the Year” award from the Veterans Council of his home town of Worcester, Massachusetts. Yet, if we think of Harvey Ball, it is probably not for his military service.

Harvey Ross Ball worked for a sign painter while attending Worcester South High School, and went on to study fine arts at the Worcester Art Museum School.

After the war, Ball came home to Worcester and worked for a local advertising firm, later opening his own ad agency, Harvey Ball Advertising, in 1959.

In 1963, Worcester’s State Mutual Life Assurance Company (now Hanover Insurance) bought out the Guarantee Mutual Company of Ohio.  Employee morale had plummeted at the new acquisition, and Director of Promotions Joy Young was tasked with solving the problem.  She hired Harvey Ball as a freelance artist to create a visual icon. A pin to be worn as part of the company’s ‘friendship campaign’.

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Harvey Ball, surrounded by his own creation

First came that silly grin. The pair quickly realized that the button could be inverted, and we can’t have “frowny” faces walking about, can we. Ball added eyes, the left drawn slightly smaller than the right, to “humanize” the design.

The work took about ten minutes and the artist was paid $45, equivalent to $330 today.  Neither Ball nor State Mutual Felt it necessary to copyright the graphic.

From Betty Boop to the hula hoop, popular culture is always primed and ready to dive into the latest fad. State Mutual ordered 100 buttons.  Before  Long, manufacturers were taking orders for thousands at a time.

Philadelphia brothers Bernard and Murray Spain seized on the image seven years later, producing millions of coffee mugs, t-shirts, watches and bumper stickers, emblazoned with the happy face and the slogan “Have a happy day”, later revised to the ever present, “Have a nice day”.

The image was everywhere, second only to the ubiquitous “Peace Sign”.

Frenchman Franklin Loufrani copyrighted the image in France in 1972, using it to highlight the “good news” section of the newspaper France Soir.

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WMCA “good guys” sweatshirt, 1962

Loufrani’s son Nicolas took over the family business, launching The Smiley Company in 1996.  The younger Loufrani is skeptical of Harvey Ball’s claim to have created such a simple design, pointing to cave paintings found in France dated to 2500BC, and a similar graphic used in radio ad campaigns, of the early ’60s.

Of course, that didn’t prevent the company from seeking US trademark rights to the image, kicking off a years-long legal battle with retail giant Wal-Mart, which had been using the happy face in its “Rolling Back Prices” campaign.

The Smiley Company is one of the 100 largest licensing corporations in the world with revenues of $167 million in 2012, the year that BBC Radio produced the documentary “Smiley’s People”, broadcast on February 4.

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Martian Crater

The artist didn’t seem to mind, that he never copyrighted his Smiley Face. Harvey Ball is gone now, but his son Charles says his father never was a money driven kind of guy. “Hey”, he would say, “I can only eat one steak at a time. drive one car at a time”.

In the 2009 film “Watchmen” characters fly to Mars, landing in a crater that looks like a Smiley Face. The red planet really does have such a place. It’s called the Galle crater.

In June of 2010, Wal-Mart and the Smiley Company settled their 10-year-old legal dispute in Chicago federal court. The terms of the settlement are confidential, and the judges words as he lowered the gavel, are unknown to this writer.  I so want to believe he told all those lawyers, to “have a nice day”.

If you enjoyed this “Today in History”, please feel free to re-blog, “like” & share on social media, so that others may find and enjoy it too. Please click the “follow” button on the right, to receive email updates on new articles.  Thank you for your interest, in the history we all share.

February 3, 1943  Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

As the ship upended and went down by the bow, survivors floating nearby could see the four chaplains.  With arms linked and leaning against the slanting deck, their voices offered prayers and sang hymns for the dead and for those about to die.

The Troop Transport USAT Dorchester sailed out of New York Harbor on January 23, 1943, carrying 904 service members, merchant seamen and civilian workers.  They were headed for the  the Army Command Base at Narsarsuaq in southern Greenland, part of a six-ship convoy designated SG-19, together with two merchant ships and escorted by the Coast Guard Cutters Comanche, Escanaba and Tampa.

Built as a coastal liner in 1926, Dorchester was anything but graceful, bouncing and shuddering her way through the rough seas of the North Atlantic.

German U-Boats had already sunk several ships in these waters.  One of the Cutters detected a submarine late on February 2, flashing the light signal “we’re being followed”.  Dorchester Captain Hans Danielson ordered his ship on high alert that night.  Men were ordered to sleep in their clothes with their life jackets on, but many disregarded the order.  It was too hot down there in the holds, and those life jackets were anything but comfortable.

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Some of those off-duty tried to sleep that night, while others played cards or threw dice, well into the night.  Nerves were understandably on edge, especially among new recruits, as four Army chaplains passed among them with words of encouragement.

They were the Jewish rabbi Alexander David Goode, the Catholic priest John Patrick Washington, the Reformed Church in America (RCA) minister Clark Vandersail Poling, and the Methodist minister George Lansing Fox.

At 12:55am on February 3rd, the German submarine U-223 fired a spread of three torpedoes.  One struck Dorchester amidships, deep below the water line.  A hundred or more were killed in the blast, or in the clouds of steam and ammonia vapor billowing from ruptured boilers.  Suddenly pitched into darkness, untold numbers were trapped below decks.  With boiler power lost, there was no longer enough steam to blow the full 6 whistle signal to abandon ship, while loss of power prevented a radio distress signal.  For reasons not entirely clear, there never were any signal flares.

druidartThose who could escape scrambled onto the deck, injured, disoriented, many still in their underwear as they emerged into the cold and darkness.

The four chaplains must have been a welcome sight, guiding the disoriented and the wounded, offering prayers and words of courage.  They opened a storage locker and handed out life preservers, until there were no more.  “Padre,” said one young soldier, “I’ve lost my life jacket and I can’t swim!”  Witnesses differ as to which of the four it was who gave this man his life jacket, but they all followed suit.  One survivor, John Ladd, said “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven.” Rabbi Goode gave his gloves to Petty Officer John Mahoney, saying “Never mind.  I have two pairs”.  It was only later that Mahoney realized, Rabbi Goode intended to stay with the ship.

size0Dorchester was listing hard to starboard and taking on water fast, with only 20 minutes to live.  Port side lifeboats were inoperable due to the ship’s angle.  Men jumped across the void into those on the starboard side, overcrowding them to the point of capsize.  Only two of fourteen lifeboats launched successfully.

Private William Bednar found himself floating in 34° water, surrounded by dead bodies and debris. “I could hear men crying, pleading, praying,” he recalled. “I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.”

As the ship upended and went down by the bow, survivors floating nearby could see the four chaplains.  With arms linked and leaning against the slanting deck, their voices offered prayers and sang hymns for the dead and for those about to die.

images (17)Rushing back to the scene, coast guard cutters found themselves in a sea of bobbing red lights, the water-activated emergency strobe lights of individual life jackets.  Most marked the location of corpses.  Of the 904 on board, the Coast Guard plucked 230 from the water, alive.

The United States Congress attempted to confer the Medal of Honor on the four chaplains for their selfless act of courage, but strict requirements for “heroism under fire” prevented it from doing so.  Congress authorized a one time, posthumous “Chaplain’s Medal for Heroism”, awarded to the next of kin by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker at Fort Myer, Virginia on January 18, 1961.

chaplains_medalJohn 15:13 says “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”.  Rabbi Goode did not call out for a Jew when he gave away his only hope for survival, Father Washington did not ask for a Catholic. Neither minister Fox nor Poling asked for a Protestant.  Each gave his life jacket to the nearest man.

Carl Sandburg once said that “Valor is a gift.  Those having it never know for sure whether they have it until the test comes.”  If I were ever so tested, I hope that I would prove myself half the man, as any of those four chaplains.

four-chaplainsUSSDorchester

February 2, 1887 Groundhog Day

Midway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox and well before the first crocus of spring has peered out across the frozen tundra, there is a moment of insanity which helps those of us living in northern climes get through to that brief, blessed moment of warmth when the mosquitoes once again have their way with us.

Here on sunny Cape Cod, there is a joke about the four seasons. We have “Almost Winter”, “Winter”, “Still Winter” and “Bridge Construction”.

images (16)Midway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox and well before the first crocus of spring has peered out across the frozen tundra, there is a moment of insanity which helps those of us living in northern climes get through to that brief, blessed moment of warmth when the mosquitoes once again have their way with us.

The ancient Romans observed their mid-season festival on February 5, the pagan Irish on February 1. For Christians, it was February 2, Candlemas day, a Christian holiday celebrating the ritual purification of Mary. For reasons not entirely clear, early Christians believed that there would be six more weeks of winter if the sun came out on Candlemas Day.

Clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter, their length representing how long and cold the winter was expected to be. Germans expanded on the idea by selecting an animal, a hedgehog, as a means of predicting weather. Once a suitable number of Germans had come to America, they switched over to a more local rodent: Marmota monax.  The common Groundhog.

groundhogpuppetGroundhogs hibernate for the winter, an ability held in great envy by some people I know. During that time, their heart rate drops from 80 beats per minute to 5, and they live off their stored body fat.  Another ability some of us would appreciate, very much.

The male couldn’t care less about the weather.  He comes out of his burrow in February, in search of a date.  If uninterrupted, he will fulfill his groundhog mission of love and return to earth, not coming out for good until sometime in March.

But then there is the amorous woodchuck’s worst nightmare in a top hat.  The groundhog hunter.

In 1887, there was a group of groundhog hunters in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, imaginatively calling themselves the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. One of them, a newspaper editor, declared on February 2, 1887, that their groundhog “Phil” was the only True weather forecasting rodent.

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There are those who would dispute the Gobbler’s Knob crowd and their claims to Punxsutawney Phil’s weather forecasting prowess. Alabama has “Birmingham Bill”, and Canada has Shubenacadie Sam. New York can’t seem to decide between Staten Island Chuck and New York City’s very own official groundhog, “Pothole Pete”.  North Carolinians look to “Queen Charlotte” and “Sir Walter Wally”, and Georgia folks can take their choice between “Gus”, and “General Beauregard Lee”.

Since the eponymously named Bill Murray film from 1993, nothing seems to rise to the appropriate level of insanity, more than Groundhog Day drinking games. For the seasoned Groundhog enthusiast, “beer breakfasts” welcome the end of winter, across the fruited plain. If you’re in the Quaker state, you can attend the Groundhog day “Hawaiian Shirt Beer Breakfast”, at Philadelphia’s own Grey Lodge Public House. If you’re in Des Moines, stop by the The High Life Lounge, where free Miller High Life beers will be served from 6am, to eleven. And for the late sleeper, there is the annual screening of the Bill Murray Masterpiece, at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Beer Dinner.

Fun fact: Bill Murray was bitten, not once but twice, by the groundhog used on the set.

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It appears that there is no word for groundhog in Arabic, accounts of this day in the Arab press translate the word as جرذ الأرض.  “Ground Rat”.  I was pretty excited to learn that before al Jazeera gets carted off, toe tag first.

If anyone were to bend down and ask Mr. Ground Rat his considered opinion on the matter, he would probably cast a pox on all their houses. It’s been a long winter. Mr. Ground Rat’s all dressed up for a date.  He has other things on his mind.

If you enjoyed this “Today in History”, please feel free to re-blog, “like” & share on social media, so that others may find and enjoy it too. Please click the “follow” button on the right, to receive email updates on new articles.  Thank you for your interest, in the history we all share.

February 1, 1968 A Moment in Time

Eddie Adams won his Pulitzer in 1969, but came to regret that he had ever taken the picture. Years later he wrote in Time Magazine. ‘The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths”.

During WW2, the average infantry soldier saw 40 days of combat, in 4 years.  In Vietnam, the average combat infantryman saw 240 days of combat, in a year.

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Gallup poll, 1965 – 1971

By 1967, the Johnson administration was coming under increasing criticism, for what many of the American public saw as an endless and pointless stalemate in Vietnam.

Opinion polls revealed an increasing percentage believed it was a mistake to send more troops into Vietnam, their number rising from 25% in 1965, to 45% by December, 1967.

The Johnson administration responded with a “success offensive”, emphasizing “kill ratios” and “body counts” of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters.  Vice President Hubert Humphrey stated on NBC’s Today show that November, that “We are on the offensive. Territory is being gained. We are making steady progress.”

download (9)In Communist North Vietnam, the massive battlefield losses of 1966-’67 combined with the economic devastation wrought by US Aerial bombing, causing moderate factions to push for peaceful coexistence with the south.  More radical factions favoring military reunification on the Indochina peninsula, needed to throw a “hail Mary” pass.  Plans for a winter/spring offensive began, in early 1967.  By the New Year, some 80,000 Communist fighters had quietly infiltrated the length and breadth of South Vietnam.

One of the largest military operations of the war launched on January 30, 1968, coinciding with the Tết holiday, the Vietnamese New Year.  In the first wave of attacks, North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong Guerillas struck over 100 cities and towns, including Saigon, the South Vietnamese capitol.

TetMapInitially taken off-guard, US and South Vietnamese forces regrouped and beat back the attacks, inflicting heavy losses on North Vietnamese forces.  The month-long battle for Huế (“Hway”) uncovered the massacre of as many as 6,000 South Vietnamese by Communist forces, 5-10% of the entire city.  Fighting continued for over two months at the US combat base at Khe Sanh.

While the Tết offensive was a military defeat for the forces of North Vietnam, the political effects on the American public, were profound.  Support for the war effort plummeted, leading to demonstrations.  Jeers could be heard in the streets.  “Hey! Hey! LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?

Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency, was finished.  The following month, Johnson appeared before the nation in a televised address, saying “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

In the early morning darkness of February 1, 1968, Nguyễn Văn Lém led a Viet Cong sabotage unit in an assault on the Armor base in Go Vap.  After taking control of the camp, Nguyễn arrested Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Tuan with his family, demanding that the officer show his guerillas how to drive tanks.  The officer refused, and the Viet Cong slit his throat, along with those of his wife and six children, and his 80-year-old mother.

The only survivor was a grievously injured 10-year-old boy.

Nguyễn was captured later that morning, near the mass grave of 34 civilians.  He said he was “proud” to have carried out orders to kill them.

AP photographer Eddie Adams was out on the street with NBC News television cameraman Võ Sửu, looking for something interesting.  The pair saw a group of South Vietnamese soldiers dragging what appeared to be an ordinary man into the road, and filmed the event.

Adams “…followed the three of them as they walked towards us, making an occasional picture. When they were close – maybe five feet away – the soldiers stopped and backed away. I saw a man walk into my camera viewfinder from the left. He took a pistol out of his holster and raised it. I had no idea he would shoot. It was common to hold a pistol to the head of prisoners during questioning. So I prepared to make that picture – the threat, the interrogation. But it didn’t happen. The man just pulled a pistol out of his holster, raised it to the VC’s head and shot him in the temple. I made a picture at the same time.”

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The man with the pistol was Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, Chief of the national police.  Loan had personally witnessed the murder of one of his officers, along with the man’s wife and three small children.

Nguyễn Văn Lém was guilty of major war crimes.  He was out of uniform and not involved in combat, when he murdered the General’s own subordinates and their families.  The man was a war criminal and terrorist with no protections under the Geneva Conventions, legally eligible for summary execution.

Loan drew his .38 Special Smith & Wesson “Bodyguard” revolver and fired.  The execution was barely a blip on his radar screen.

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General Nguyễn was a devoted Patriot and South Vietnamese Nationalist.  An accomplished pilot who led an airstrike on Việt Cộng forces at Bo Duc in 1967, Loan was loved and admired by his soldiers.

In February 1968, hard fighting yet remained to retake the capitol.  As always, Nguyễn Ngọc Loan was leading from the front, when a machine gun burst tore into his leg.

Meanwhile, Adams’ “Saigon Execution” photograph and Võ’s footage made their way into countless papers and news broadcasts.  Stripped of context, General Nguyễn came to be seen as a “bloodthirsty sadist”, the Viet Cong terrorist his “innocent victim”.

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Composite sequence published by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History of the University of Texas, at Austin.

Adams was well on his way to winning a Pulitzer prize for that photograph, while an already impassioned anti-war movement, lost the power of reason.

The political outcry reached all the way to Australia, where General Nguyễn was recuperating from his amputation.  An Australian hospital refused him treatment, and he traveled to America, to recover.

American politics looked inward in the years to come, as the Nixon administration sought the “Vietnamization” of the war. By January 1973, direct US involvement in the war, had come to an end.

Military aid to South Vietnam was $2.8 billion in fiscal year 1973. The US Congress placed a Billion dollar ceiling on the number the following year, cutting that to $300 million, in 1975.  The Republic of Vietnam collapsed, some fifty-five days later.

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Scenes from the final evacuation of Saigon, April, 1975

General Nguyễn was forced to flee the country he had served.  American immigration authorities sought deportation on his arrival, in part because of Eddie Adams’ picture.  The photographer was recruited to testify against the General, but Adams spoke on his behalf.

Nguyễn was permitted to stay.  He and his wife opened a pizza shop in the Rolling Valley Mall of Virginia, “Les Trois Continents”.  The restaurant was a success for a time, until word got out about the owner’s identity.  Knowing nothing about Nguyễn except for that image, locals began to make trouble.  Business plummeted as the owner was assaulted in his own restaurant, his life threatened.

The last time Adams visited Nguyễn’s pizza parlor, the words “We know who you are, fucker“, were scrawled across a toilet wall.

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The couple was forced to close the restaurant in 1991.  Nguyễn Ngọc Loan died of cancer, seven years later.

Eddie Adams won his Pulitzer in 1969, but came to regret that he had ever taken the picture. Years later he wrote in Time Magazine. ‘The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn’t say was, “What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?”‘

Before Nguyễn died, Adams apologized to the General and his family, for what that image had done to the man’s reputation. “The guy was a hero”, he said, after his death. “America should be crying. I just hate to see him go this way, without people knowing anything about him.”