The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

January/February 2004
FEATURE
   
 

Fresh Papayas

BY JEAN LACOUTURE
   
  BATTLE OF DIEN-BIEN-PHU, 1954  (c) DANIEL CAMUS-ECPAD

When I close my eyes and think about Vietnamafter a half-century of tragic expeditions and a dozen stays between the Chinese border and the Gulf of SiamI am overwhelmed by a green wave. All the spilled blood, the destroyed villages, and the massive defoliation can't erase from my memory the color of the rice paddies, the forests, the trails hedged by palm groves, or the fresh papayas on my table.

I open my eyes on this photograph by Daniel Camus: The war expelled the green from my Vietnam. This image couldn't be further away from those embedded in my own consciousness.

During the time of Dien Bien Phu, long before Gen. Le May threatened to bomb Vietnam to the Stone Age, men transformed Vietnam from vegetable to mineral. Not only the country. Men also.

The garden became a glaze. The combatants, statues.

One leaves the day before a friend is strapped in a camouflage uniform. One only finds grey shadows in this poignant image.

War kills? It buries you first.

born in France in 1921, Jean Lacouture first went to Indochina in 1945 as an NCO. He became a press attach‚ to Gen. Leclerc and joined the prestigious daily Le Monde in 1951. Lacouture wrote 50 books, including six on Indochina where he traveled extensively. His bestsellers include: Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography (1966); De Gaulle, The Rebel (1990); and Jesuits: A Multibiography (1997).

Daniel Camus was an army photographer in Indochina. He photographed the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and joined Paris Match shortly thereafter.

Under Fire: Images from Vietnam, is a multimedia project that sells museum-quality prints of exclusive images of the Vietnam War by top war photographers at www.pieceuniquegallery.com
 

   

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