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David Hume Kennerly The Vietnam Era Award-winning photojournalist David Hume Kennerly, working with some of the world’s most prestigious news organizations, was in a unique position to document the Vietnam conflict the battlefield, in the streets of America, and behind the scenes at the White House

David Hume Kennerly

The Vietnam Era

The War Front: David Kennerly's Pullitzer Prize winning images of power and defeat in Vietnam in the early 1970s.

The War Front

David Kennerly's Pullitzer Prize winning images of power and defeat in Vietnam in the early 1970s.

An American GI sits atop his armored personnel carrier on Easter Sunday near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam. 1971.

The War Front

An American GI sits atop his armored personnel carrier on Easter Sunday near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam. 1971.

A military ambulance passes by the grave of a dead South Vietnamese soldier on Highway 13, near Quang Tri, South Vietnam.

The War Front

A military ambulance passes by the grave of a dead South Vietnamese soldier on Highway 13, near Quang Tri, South Vietnam. This area was near the DMZ with North Vietnam. 1971.

American soldiers jump out of a helicopter during a combat assault near Mỹ Tho in the Mekong Delta, South Vietnam. 1971.

The War Front

American soldiers jump out of a helicopter during a combat assault near Mỹ Tho in the Mekong Delta, South Vietnam. 1971.

A little girl nonchalantly rides her bike past Vietnamese Army tanks near Lai Khe, South Vietnam.

The War Front

A little girl nonchalantly rides her bike past Vietnamese Army tanks near Lai Khe, South Vietnam. Even though fighting raged nearby, life in the countryside was barely interrupted. 1973.

An American GI sported a peace sign during a combat operation outside of DaNang, South. Vietnam. 1972.

The War Front

An American GI sported a peace sign during a combat operation outside of DaNang, South Vietnam. 1972.

Eight-inch guns aboard the USS Newport News fire at targets inside North Vietnam in Thanh Hoa Harbor. A fishing boat bobs in the water alongside the ship. 1972.

The War Front

Eight-inch guns aboard the USS Newport News fire at targets inside North Vietnam in Thanh Hoa Harbor. A fishing boat bobs in the water alongside the ship. 1972.

South Vietnamese troops fire a 105mm gun at enemy troops near the A Shau Valley, South Vietnam. 1971.

The War Front

South Vietnamese troops fire a 105mm gun at enemy troops near the A Shau Valley, South Vietnam. 1971.

South Vietnamese troops march down Highway 13 toward An Loc to try to relieve their fellow soldiers, who are surrounded by North Vietnamese regulars. 1972.

The War Front

South Vietnamese troops march down Highway 13 toward An Lộc to try to relieve their fellow soldiers, who are surrounded by North Vietnamese regulars. 1972.

Lone soldier walks across a deserted hill in the A Shau Valley. 1971.

The War Front

Lone soldier walks across a deserted hill in the A Shau Valley. 1971.

Where's Waldo? An American soldier makes his way through the thick jungle outside of DaNang, South Vietnam. 1972.

The War Front

Where's Waldo? An American soldier makes his way through the thick jungle outside of DaNang, South Vietnam. 1972.

A U.S. soldier drinks water from his helmet during a combat operation patrolling the rocket belt outside of DaNang, South Vietnam. 1972.

The War Front

A U.S. soldier drinks water from his helmet during a combat operation patrolling the rocket belt outside of DaNang, South Vietnam. 1972.

South Vietnamese Army soldier near Lai Khe, South Vietnam, during a combat operation pursuing Viet Cong soldiers. 1971.

The War Front

South Vietnamese Army soldier near Lai Khe, South Vietnam, during a combat operation pursuing Viet Cong soldiers. 1971.

The Home Front :David Kennerly captured many of the American personalities and events that reflected the turbulent era of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The Home Front

David Kennerly captured many of the American personalities and events that reflected the turbulent era of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Policeman with a drawn gun holds back anti-war demonstrators who attacked the Administration Building at San Francisco State College. They were also protesting the selecting of S.I. Hayakawa as president of the school. 1968.

The Homefront

Policeman with a drawn gun holds back anti-war demonstrators who attacked the Administration Building at San Francisco State College. They were also protesting the selecting of S.I. Hayakawa as president of the school. 1968.

Police officer arrests an anti-war demonstrator they had beaten up at San Francisco State College, San Francisco, CA. The demonstrations also were related to calling for programs in ethnic studies at the campus. 1968.

The Homefront

Police officer arrests an anti-war demonstrator they had beaten up at San Francisco State College, San Francisco, CA. The demonstrations also were related to calling for programs in ethnic studies at the campus. 1968.

Police wrest an American flag from fallen anti-war protestors near the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. 1970.

The Homefront

Police wrest an American flag from fallen anti-war protestors near the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. 1970.

Civil rights leader and former Congressman Adam Clayton Powell gives a fiery speech in the Watts section of Los Angeles. 1968.

The Homefront

Civil rights leader and former Congressman Adam Clayton Powell gives a fiery speech in the Watts section of Los Angeles. 1968.

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy campaigns for Domocratic congressional canidates at the Portland, Oregon Labor Hall. Kennedy was the first major politician that David Kennerly photographed, and this event sparked his interest in documenting politics. 1966.

The Homefront

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy campaigns for Democratic congressional candidates at the Portland, Oregon Labor Hall. Kennedy was the first major politician that David Kennerly photographed, and this event sparked his interest in documenting politics. 1966.

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy with wife, Ethel, appeared at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California Democratic Primary. Moments later he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, and died the following day at Good Samaritan Hospital. 1968.

The Homefront

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy with wife, Ethel, appeared at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California Democratic Primary. Moments later he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, and died the following day at Good Samaritan Hospital. 1968.

Mohammed Ali takes a hard right from Joe Frazier during their heavyweight championship fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Frazier won the battle. 1971.

The Homefront

Mohammed Ali takes a hard right from Joe Frazier during their heavyweight championship fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Frazier won the battle. 1971.

Washington Post reporters (L) Bob Woodward and (R) Carl Bernstein walk from Federal Court after covering the Senate Watergate Committe hearings on March 1,1974, in Washington, D.C.

The Homefront

Washington Post reporters (L) Bob Woodward and (R) Carl Bernstein walk from Federal Court after covering the Senate Watergate Committee hearings on March 1, 1974, in Washington, D.C.

Former President Richard Nixon waves goodbye as he boards his helicopter to depart from the White House for the last time after resigning the presidency, Washington, D.C., August 9, 1974.

The Homefront

Former President Richard Nixon waves goodbye as he boards his helicopter to depart from the White House for the last time after resigning the presidency, Washington, D.C., August 9, 1974.

Seated left to right, musician Tom Scott, singer Billy Preston, George Harrison, who is sitting in the president's chair, musician Ravi Shankar, president's son Jack Ford, and standing, Harry Harrison, George's father, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. 1974.

The Homefront

Seated (left to right), musician Tom Scott, singer Billy Preston, George Harrison, who is sitting in the president's chair, musician Ravi Shankar, the president's son Jack Ford, and standing, Harry Harrison, George's father, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. 1974.

Vietnam: The Final Days - David Kennerly documented events behind the scenes at the Ford White House, and traveled back to Vietnam and Cambodia to record the harrowing and chaotic period of U.S withdrawal in 1975.

Vietnam: The Final Days

David Kennerly documented events behind the scenes at the Ford White House, and traveled back to Vietnam and Cambodia to record the harrowing and chaotic period of U.S withdrawal in 1975.

American prisoners of war inside their jail cell at

Vietnam: The Final Days

American prisoners of war inside their jail cell at "The Plantation" camp prior to their release from Hanoi, North Vietnam. 1973.

American POWs arrive at an airbase in Hanoi, North Vietnam prior to their release from captivity. 1973.

Vietnam: The Final Days

American POWs arrive at an airbase in Hanoi, North Vietnam prior to their release from captivity. 1973.

South Vietnamese President Nguyan Van Thieu in his office at the Presidential Palace in Saigon. Thieu fled the country three weeks later, ahead of advancing Communist troops. 1975.

Vietnam: The Final Days

South Vietnamese President Nguyan Van Thieu in his office at the Presidential Palace in Saigon. Thieu fled the country three weeks later, ahead of advancing Communist troops. 1975.

President Gerald R. Ford talks to Ambassador Graham Martin, General Frederick Weyand and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office. Ford dispatched Weyand on a mission to Vietnam to see if anything could be done to help the South Vietnamese government stop advancing North Vietnamese Comm

Vietnam: The Final Days

President Gerald R. Ford talks to Ambassador Graham Martin, General Frederick Weyand and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office. Ford dispatched Weyand on a mission to Vietnam to see if anything could be done to help the South Vietnamese government stop advancing North Vietnamese Communists. 1975.

National Security Council staffers in the White House monitor progress of the rescue of 11 Marines who were stranded on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon after the helicopter evacuation had been completed. Fortunately they were rescued a couple of hours later. 1975. 

Vietnam: The Final Days

National Security Council staffers in the White House monitor progress of the rescue of 11 Marines who were stranded on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon after the helicopter evacuation had been completed. Fortunately they were rescued a couple of hours later. 1975. 

South Vietnamese residents of Nha Trang pack their belongings on buses as they get ready to flee the North Vietnamese troops who are descending on their coastal city. 1975.

Vietnam: The Final Days

South Vietnamese residents of Nha Trang pack their belongings on buses as they get ready to flee the North Vietnamese troops who are descending on their coastal city. 1975.

A young orphan, one of more than 3,300 children who were part of Operation Babylift, were evacuated by President Gerald R. Ford from South Vietnam to the United States toward the end of the Vietnam War. Many of the kids had American fathers and were considered to be at risk if the Communists took ov

Vietnam: The Final Days

A young orphan, one of more than 3,300 children who were part of Operation Babylift, who were evacuated by President Gerald R. Ford from South Vietnam to the United States toward the end of the Vietnam War. Many of the kids had American fathers and were considered to be at risk if the Communists took over. San Francisco Airport. 1975.

President Gerald R. Ford on a bus with one of the first children evacuated from Vietnam during Operation Babylift, San Francisco Airport, April 5, 1975.

Vietnam: The Final Days

President Gerald R. Ford on a bus with one of the first children evacuated from Vietnam during Operation Babylift. San Francisco Airport, April 5, 1975.

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EXHIBITION ON VIEW

David Hume Kennerly: The Vietnam Era

David Hume Kennerly began his photography career in 1966, working for the Oregon Journal. After joining United Press International, in 1967, Kennerly worked in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., and photographed the growing protests against the Vietnam War. In 1971, Kennerly traveled to Vietnam to serve as UPI’s Southeast Asia bureau chief in Saigon.

Kennerly’s last assignment before leaving for Vietnam was to photograph “The Fight of the Century,” heavyweight champion Joe Frazier versus former champion Muhammad Ali, who had been exiled from boxing for his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War. Kennerly’s photograph of Ali’s fifteenth-round defeat by Frazier was published on the front pages of dozens of newspapers around the world.

Kennerly photographed soldiers on battlefronts throughout Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as American prisoners of war, South Vietnamese children caught in the crossfire and refugees desperate for their lives. In 1972, at the age of 25, Kennerly won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography “for his dramatic photographs of the Vietnam War in 1971.” His image of a U.S. soldier walking down a bomb-shattered hill in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley was singled out for capturing the “loneliness and desolation of war.” Kennerly remained in Vietnam working as a contract photographer for Time magazine.

Still on assignment for Time, he returned home in the summer of 1973, during the Watergate crisis, photographing former President Richard Nixon’s final wave goodbye from the steps of Marine One following his resignation. In August 1974, President Gerald Ford asked Kennerly to serve as his personal photographer. Kennerly accepted the position only on the condition that he have “the freedom to walk in and out of the President’s office at will to take whatever pictures he felt were a part of history.”

A contributing editor for Newsweek for more than a decade, and a contributing photographer for Time and Life magazines, Kennerly covered the 2016 presidential campaign for CNN, and was a major contributor to the book Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything. Named one of the “100 Most Important People in Photography” by American Photo magazine, Kennerly has published several books of his work.

The War Front

In 1971, David Kennerly traveled to Vietnam to serve as United Press International’s Southeast Asia bureau chief in Saigon. Unbeknownst to the U.S. Congress and the American people, Nixon had expanded the geographic scope of the war, while promising a gradual withdrawal of troops, and authorized the bombing of Viet Cong sites within the neutral nations of Cambodia and Laos. Kennerly arrived in Southeast Asia the year that the revelation of Nixon’s actions came to light.

Many of Kennerly’s photographs captured American instruments of war, including tanks and armored vehicles, warplanes and ships. Others depict scenes of U.S. soldiers confronting the most formidable ally of the Viet Cong: the unrelenting heat and rain, heavily forested jungles, paddy fields and swamps, and treacherous mountainous terrain. Within Kennerly’s Pulitzer Prize–winning portfolio of a year’s work, his image of a sole U.S. soldier walking down a bomb-shattered hill in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley, in the mountains outside of Huế, was singled out for its depiction of the “desolation and loneliness of war.”

Kennerly later recounted his discovery that “all the images I made for UPI resided in the wire service’s files. The original negative of the GI traversing the devastated hill went missing and was never found.” Equally distressing was learning that UPI’s common practice was to cut up the rolls of the thirty-six black-and-white negatives in three-frame sections, with the chosen image in the center — all done to make sure the film would fit into an old stockpile of small envelopes. The rest of the negatives were thrown away. Kennerly was dismayed that “ninety percent or so of the images I shot during my five years as a UPI photographer were discarded, including at least a year and a half’s worth of Vietnam pictures. It was heartbreaking.”

Leaving UPI, Kennerly worked as a contract photographer for Time magazine. He remained in Vietnam and, in 1973, photographed the haunting scene of the last American prisoner of war released in Hanoi.

The Homefront

In the late 1960s through the mid-1970s, the Vietnam War effort escalated, and David Kennerly captured many of the American personalities and events that reflected the turbulent era. This included 1968 presidential candidates Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy,as well as cultural icons ranging from Miles Davis to the Supremes. Kennerly also documented the protest movement that erupted across the country in response to the Vietnam conflict.

Anti-war protests were often violent, met with confrontation by police forces, the National Guard and pro-war demonstrators. As the conflict in Vietnam grew, media coverage also expanded in print and on television. In 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war by commencing air strikes on North Vietnam and sending more than half a million U.S. soldiers into combat, Americans developed a voracious appetite for Vietnam-related news.

By most accounts, the Tet Offensive of 1968 was the beginning of the end of America’s positive outlook on the conflict. It came at a time when President Johnson was attempting to reassure the American public of progress on the war front. When the casualty reports and images of rows of coffins occupied the front pages of newspapers across the country, Americans were horrified. The vivid reporting made clear that victory in Vietnam was not at all imminent. On March 31, 1968, Johnson announced that he would not seek another term as president.

In the 1970s, the combined revelations of President Nixon’s bombing campaigns in Cambodia and Laos, and the publication of the top-secret Pentagon Papers by The New York Times, revealed decades-long involvement in Vietnamese conflicts and a high-level deception of the American public by the Johnson Administration. This resulted in enormous public outrage in the United States and forced Nixon to push for a peace settlement. Kennerly, on assignment in Vietnam, returned home to witness the Watergate scandal — the impeachment proceedings against Nixon, and his ultimate resignation.

Vietnam: The Final Days

On April 30, 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam as North Vietnamese troops entered Saigon, ending the Vietnam conflict. The last few Americans still in South Vietnam were airlifted out of the country as Saigon fell to Communist forces. The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular foreign war in U.S. history and cost more than 58,000 American lives. As many as two million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed.

David Kennerly was on hand to photograph machinations behind the scenes at the Ford White House, and he traveled back to Vietnam and Cambodia to document the harrowing and chaotic period of U.S. withdrawal:

When President Nixon resigned, and Ford replaced him, he asked me to be his chief photographer. With that job came total access, not just to the President and his family, but to everything that was going on behind the scenes. It was quite an honor, wildly exciting, and one of the most professionally and personally rewarding times of my life.

My previous life as a combat shooter was running head-on into my latest career as a presidential photographer. I documented the events of the next few weeks as any professional news photographer would, but with a major exception. I was deep inside the White House as the president’s photographer, and was given an unparalleled opportunity to see a war implode from within the halls of power. This special access also led to a secret trip back to Vietnam on a special mission for the President of the United States, and then back to the White House for the finale of the Vietnam drama.

April 28th and 29th of 1975 were personal days of hell as the last act of the Vietnam tragedy unfolded...Just a few short years earlier, I was consumed with a drive to document events…on the front lines where the action was. Or so I thought. Not much later, I found myself in the center of action of another kind — watching and recording the agony of decisions about life, death and the future of nations being made one at a time by a president until there were no more decisions to make. And then, the Vietnam War was over.

minimize

EXHIBITION ON VIEW

David Hume Kennerly: The Vietnam Era

David Hume Kennerly began his photography career in 1966, working for the Oregon Journal. After joining United Press International, in 1967, Kennerly worked in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., and photographed the growing protests against the Vietnam War. In 1971, Kennerly traveled to Vietnam to serve as UPI’s Southeast Asia bureau chief in Saigon.

Kennerly’s last assignment before leaving for Vietnam was to photograph “The Fight of the Century,” heavyweight champion Joe Frazier versus former champion Muhammad Ali, who had been exiled from boxing for his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War. Kennerly’s photograph of Ali’s fifteenth-round defeat by Frazier was published on the front pages of dozens of newspapers around the world.

Kennerly photographed soldiers on battlefronts throughout Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as American prisoners of war, South Vietnamese children caught in the crossfire and refugees desperate for their lives. In 1972, at the age of 25, Kennerly won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography “for his dramatic photographs of the Vietnam War in 1971.” His image of a U.S. soldier walking down a bomb-shattered hill in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley was singled out for capturing the “loneliness and desolation of war.” Kennerly remained in Vietnam working as a contract photographer for Time magazine.

Still on assignment for Time, he returned home in the summer of 1973, during the Watergate crisis, photographing former President Richard Nixon’s final wave goodbye from the steps of Marine One following his resignation. In August 1974, President Gerald Ford asked Kennerly to serve as his personal photographer. Kennerly accepted the position only on the condition that he have “the freedom to walk in and out of the President’s office at will to take whatever pictures he felt were a part of history.”

A contributing editor for Newsweek for more than a decade, and a contributing photographer for Time and Life magazines, Kennerly covered the 2016 presidential campaign for CNN, and was a major contributor to the book Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything. Named one of the “100 Most Important People in Photography” by American Photo magazine, Kennerly has published several books of his work.

The War Front

In 1971, David Kennerly traveled to Vietnam to serve as United Press International’s Southeast Asia bureau chief in Saigon. Unbeknownst to the U.S. Congress and the American people, Nixon had expanded the geographic scope of the war, while promising a gradual withdrawal of troops, and authorized the bombing of Viet Cong sites within the neutral nations of Cambodia and Laos. Kennerly arrived in Southeast Asia the year that the revelation of Nixon’s actions came to light.

Many of Kennerly’s photographs captured American instruments of war, including tanks and armored vehicles, warplanes and ships. Others depict scenes of U.S. soldiers confronting the most formidable ally of the Viet Cong: the unrelenting heat and rain, heavily forested jungles, paddy fields and swamps, and treacherous mountainous terrain. Within Kennerly’s Pulitzer Prize–winning portfolio of a year’s work, his image of a sole U.S. soldier walking down a bomb-shattered hill in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley, in the mountains outside of Huế, was singled out for its depiction of the “desolation and loneliness of war.”

Kennerly later recounted his discovery that “all the images I made for UPI resided in the wire service’s files. The original negative of the GI traversing the devastated hill went missing and was never found.” Equally distressing was learning that UPI’s common practice was to cut up the rolls of the thirty-six black-and-white negatives in three-frame sections, with the chosen image in the center — all done to make sure the film would fit into an old stockpile of small envelopes. The rest of the negatives were thrown away. Kennerly was dismayed that “ninety percent or so of the images I shot during my five years as a UPI photographer were discarded, including at least a year and a half’s worth of Vietnam pictures. It was heartbreaking.”

Leaving UPI, Kennerly worked as a contract photographer for Time magazine. He remained in Vietnam and, in 1973, photographed the haunting scene of the last American prisoner of war released in Hanoi.

The Homefront

In the late 1960s through the mid-1970s, the Vietnam War effort escalated, and David Kennerly captured many of the American personalities and events that reflected the turbulent era. This included 1968 presidential candidates Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy,as well as cultural icons ranging from Miles Davis to the Supremes. Kennerly also documented the protest movement that erupted across the country in response to the Vietnam conflict.

Anti-war protests were often violent, met with confrontation by police forces, the National Guard and pro-war demonstrators. As the conflict in Vietnam grew, media coverage also expanded in print and on television. In 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war by commencing air strikes on North Vietnam and sending more than half a million U.S. soldiers into combat, Americans developed a voracious appetite for Vietnam-related news.

By most accounts, the Tet Offensive of 1968 was the beginning of the end of America’s positive outlook on the conflict. It came at a time when President Johnson was attempting to reassure the American public of progress on the war front. When the casualty reports and images of rows of coffins occupied the front pages of newspapers across the country, Americans were horrified. The vivid reporting made clear that victory in Vietnam was not at all imminent. On March 31, 1968, Johnson announced that he would not seek another term as president.

In the 1970s, the combined revelations of President Nixon’s bombing campaigns in Cambodia and Laos, and the publication of the top-secret Pentagon Papers by The New York Times, revealed decades-long involvement in Vietnamese conflicts and a high-level deception of the American public by the Johnson Administration. This resulted in enormous public outrage in the United States and forced Nixon to push for a peace settlement. Kennerly, on assignment in Vietnam, returned home to witness the Watergate scandal — the impeachment proceedings against Nixon, and his ultimate resignation.

Vietnam: The Final Days

On April 30, 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam as North Vietnamese troops entered Saigon, ending the Vietnam conflict. The last few Americans still in South Vietnam were airlifted out of the country as Saigon fell to Communist forces. The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular foreign war in U.S. history and cost more than 58,000 American lives. As many as two million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed.

David Kennerly was on hand to photograph machinations behind the scenes at the Ford White House, and he traveled back to Vietnam and Cambodia to document the harrowing and chaotic period of U.S. withdrawal:

When President Nixon resigned, and Ford replaced him, he asked me to be his chief photographer. With that job came total access, not just to the President and his family, but to everything that was going on behind the scenes. It was quite an honor, wildly exciting, and one of the most professionally and personally rewarding times of my life.

My previous life as a combat shooter was running head-on into my latest career as a presidential photographer. I documented the events of the next few weeks as any professional news photographer would, but with a major exception. I was deep inside the White House as the president’s photographer, and was given an unparalleled opportunity to see a war implode from within the halls of power. This special access also led to a secret trip back to Vietnam on a special mission for the President of the United States, and then back to the White House for the finale of the Vietnam drama.

April 28th and 29th of 1975 were personal days of hell as the last act of the Vietnam tragedy unfolded...Just a few short years earlier, I was consumed with a drive to document events…on the front lines where the action was. Or so I thought. Not much later, I found myself in the center of action of another kind — watching and recording the agony of decisions about life, death and the future of nations being made one at a time by a president until there were no more decisions to make. And then, the Vietnam War was over.

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