After first week of research, here’s a bit of what I’ve found out about this photograph. It is of Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Stirm seeing his family after spending six years in a North Vietnamese prison camp.
It was taken on 17 March 1973 by photographer Sal Veder, who worked for the Associated Press. He had gone to Travis Air Force Base, which is located just north of San Francisco, to photograph the return of freed American POWs from Vietnam. On this day, they would be reunited with their families after being away from home for years.
Smithsonian, which ran an article about this famous photograph, interviewed both the family immortalized in this image and Veder. Stirm’s wife Lorrie recalls: “We didn’t know if he would ever come home. That moment was all our prayers answered, all our wishes come true.” Likewise, his daughter, who is about to hug him in the picture, remembers: “I just wanted to get to Dad as fast as I could.”
The photo, which Veder entitled Burst of Joy, would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize and was reproduced in newspapers across the country.
My question for my classmates is this: what first captures your eye in the photo?
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