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North Vietnamese

For this assignment, I selected two photographs taken by Anthony Hernandez in 1972. They both portray the faces of the Vietnamese people during the war. During this time, the war was ending, and President Nixon was working out a peace settlement. Some Vietnamese were beginning to be airlifted out of Vietnam and to the United States. Families were being torn apart and many were desperate to get out of the rapidly disintegrating situation in South Vietnam. Also, the Vietnamese people were beginning to lose hope that the war would ever end. Nixon’s plan to get out of the Vietnam War changed.

Instead of forcing the North Vietnamese to withdraw all their troops before the Americans would withdrawal, the Americans withdrew their troops. This was mostly due to the insistence of the American people that the American troops be out of Vietnam by year’s end. Ultimately, the peace was for naught. By 1975, Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. The south appealed to the United States for help, but the US only sent economic advisors, no military assistance. This was the end of the American involvement in Vietnam. You can see the hardship etched on the faces of the people in the pictures. Even the nuns look like life has been burden on them.

You can almost imagine the pain that the women must be feeling. I imagined them having just sent their children off to the United States. That pain seems to be etched on their faces. With the nuns, you can see the pain of possibly losing their convent or their livelihoods and their parish. Overall, the Vietnam War was a tragic chapter in both the history of the United States and Vietnam. We need to learn from the tragic mistakes that were made in order not to make the same mistakes again in the future. These pictures serve as silent reminders and witnesses to the pact that we make with ourselves and the world.

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