Saturday Scenes

Fri 23 March 2012

Snapping that Special Moment

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 17:46

On the 17th of March in 1973, Colonel Robert L Stirm and twenty other POWs returned to the U.S. after over 5 years at a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam. Stirm endured starvation, torture and a total of 281 days in solitary confinement. For part of his imprisonment he shared a cell with future politician John McCain. On the 14th of March, Stirm was released and given a “Dear John letter” from his wife. Three days later, he arrived at Travis Air Force Base in California, where family and press were waiting for the POWs.

The homecoming was a huge press event and Stirm gave a speech about Operation Homecoming, as the event was called. Finally, he was finished and able to greet his family.

Coming Home | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine

Associated Press photographer Slava “Sal” Veder, who’d been standing in a crowded bullpen with dozens of other journalists, noticed the sprinting family and started taking pictures. “You could feel the energy and the raw emotion in the air,” says Veder, then 46, who had spent much of the Vietnam era covering antiwar demonstrations in San Francisco and Berkeley. The day was overcast, meaning no shadows and near-perfect light. He rushed to a makeshift darkroom in a ladies’ bathroom on the base (United Press International had commandeered the men’s). In less than half an hour, Veder and his AP colleague Walt Zeboski had developed six remarkable images of that singular moment. Veder’s pick, which he instantly titled Burst of Joy, was sent out over the news-service wires, published in newspapers around the nation and went on to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1974.

Sadly, the marriage dissolved within a year and Stirm stated to a reporter that he didn’t keep a copy of the photograph as it was just too painful. It’s a beautiful image of the time, even if the long-term reality didn’t carry through on the promise.

Meanwhile, on the 17th of March in 2012, the following photographs were taken and shared with the online community as a part of Saturday scenes:

Here are the talented photographers who took them:

Shouldn’t you save a photograph of your day-to-day life for posterity? It’s easy!

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location
  4. Bookmark for future descendants to find

I’m looking forward to seeing your photograph in the next edition!

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