The Vietnam War ended without achieving any real purpose. In simple terms the War was aimed at stopping the spread of communism.
The war in Vietnam lasted from 1955 until 1975. Americans troops became heavily involved and young men in America were "drafted" plenty against their will. Draft dodgers in the sixties were often thought to be simply misguided hippies but a desire for peace is not a bad idea, is it?
Wikepdia reports the death toll from the Vietnam War as, "the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed vary from fewer than one million to more than three million. Some 200,000–300,000 Cambodians, 20,000–200,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict."
When the Americans left, the country followed its own path. The War had been in vain. The death toll, casulaties, loss of years, environmental damage and so much more was a price too high to pay.
Looking at the image of the Monk who chose to burn himself to death, the impact is not dimmed by the passing of years. The information below, written by Mr Browne can be found in full here:
"Because of what I knew of the Buddhist tradition in Vietnam, I realized that it had to be taken seriously. So while other correspondents got tired of the endless Buddhist street demonstrations that were going on all that summer, I stuck with them, because I had the sense that sooner or later something would happen. I became a familiar presence at the main pagoda in Saigon. The monks knew that I appreciated their cuisine. We were friendly. One of them was a Yale graduate, as a matter of fact. And I was sincerely interested in what they were doing, quite aside from the news value of it.
One monk in particular would telephone me in advance the night before something was planned. One night he advised me to come to the pagoda at seven the next morning because something very special and important was going to happen. He sent the same message to half a dozen other American correspondents, but they all ignored it. I did not. That was all.
That morning a Buddhist monk went out and sat down in a main intersection in downtown Saigon. Two of his fellow monks poured gasoline over him, and he set himself on fire and died. I was there, the only western correspondent present and taking pictures. I suppose I took six or eight rolls of 35-millimeter film"
Check out the full report as it is worth reading. The monk never made a sound in spite of the immense pain he must have felt. THe black and white image is more powerful than a colour one would have been somehow. As Browne said each person who viewed the image chose to add their own interpretation of what the image portrayed. "The Chinese and the North Vietnamese regarded it as a wonderful propaganda picture, and of course they labeled it "A Buddhist priest dies to oppose U.S. imperialism and its influence in Vietnam." In the United States, it was regarded as a picture of a martyr who had died for a worthy cause, and therefore other Americans should support the overthrow of an autocratic Catholic government that had been supported by President Kennedy"
Today we act in the same manner be it regarding a conflict or our political beliefs. Blinkered and of narrow mind and vision.
RIP (April 17, 1931 - August 27, 2012) Malcolm Browne died from complications associated with Parkinson's Disease.