Plus: Edith Windsor and the NFL |

September 14, 2017

By Lily Rothman

This week, as we approach Sunday’s premiere of the new documentary series The Vietnam War, from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, we had lots of cause to revisit that conflict and the scars it has left on the world. And in the course of preparing to do so, a photograph caught the eye of several people on our team. In the image, an American prisoner of war stands in a field, bound, guarded by a militiawoman with a bayonet.

Wondering about the story behind that picture, I found that man — and found the incredible story of how the moment captured by the camera was responsible for changing his status from MIA to POW. You can click here to read all about it.

And that’s not the only war photograph that has its own backstory. TIME’s photo team reached out to a number of photographers who covered the war, as well as the people who were close to those photographers, to ask them which image from that period moved them most, and why. Their answers, which are compiled here alongside the pictures, shine a light on what it was like to live that history.

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

How Edith Windsor Became a Gay-Rights 'Matriarch'

Edith Windsor, who died Tuesday, had a 'judicial odyssey' that began in 2010 and ended with the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act

The Deuce and the Real History of the 1970s Porn Industry

How the '70s setting of the new HBO show fits with the real history of America's sex industry

Capturing the Wild Sadness of the AIDS Crisis at Its Height

The photographer Stephen Barker followed friends to an ACT UP meeting in late 1988 and ended up creating a body of work about the crisis

How a Court Answered a Forgotten Question of Slavery’s Legacy

As Americans debated how the Civil War period is publicly commemorated, a quieter battle over a related question was finally put to rest

What This Football Player Thinks About Anthem Protests

An increasing number of NFL players are choosing not to stand during the national anthem. Clem Daniels, who fought for civil rights in football in the 1960s, has a word of advice for them


Apr. 24, 1995

Remembering Vietnam

“Saigon fell on April 30, 1975, but Vietnam is still with us. A politician's war record—or antiwar record—evokes scorn or approbation; the masterfully manipulative Forrest Gump makes adults weep; we fret over quagmires, and still we can hear the air torn by helicopter blades and see that canted, top-heavy map on the evening news and recall precisely our draft-lottery number or that of our brother or son. Some brothers and sons did not return; they are still with us as well.” (Apr. 24, 1995)

Read the full story

Feb. 19, 1973

Prisoners of War

“It represented, in a peculiarly American way, a ritual of resurrection. For the U.S., the war in Viet Nam had gone ambiguously: the nation's longest battle had ended in nothing like glory but in a kind of complex suspension. The nation could at least find its consolation, even its celebration, in the return of the prisoners. Here, at last, was something that the war had always denied—the sense of men redeemed, the satisfaction of something retrieved from the tragedy. The P.O.W.s' return bore a tangible finality that the war itself, even in its negotiated resolution, could never offer the U.S. Now the captured Americans, who had been closest to the mystery of the enemy, were extricated, were coming home." (Feb. 19, 1973)

Read the full story

Sep. 15, 1975

This Week in 1975: ‘Squeaky’ Fromme

“A movement in the crowd, a raising of a hand, and to his astonishment, Ford found himself looking down the barrel of a loaded .45 Colt automatic pistol scarcely 2 ft. away. There was a brief flurry, and then the Secret Service subdued a social misfit, a psychological cripple, who might have easily assassinated the President of the U.S. Her name was Lynette Alice Fromme, and she was the first woman ever to attempt to kill a President of the U.S.” (Sept. 15, 1975)

Read the full story


Bookmarks Here’s a two-for-one: Villanova’s Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest has just launched a new blog, and the new Bunk — a hub for history writing around the web — is live too.

Pop Quiz At Slate, Nick Thieme asks readers to guess which decade various predictions about the future were made. (Warning: This one’s fun but difficult!)

The Long 19th Century Prompted by an interview in which Steve Bannon praised the U.S. of the 19th century, NPR’s Steve Inskeep looks at what the 1800s were really like.

On Video Talia Lavin of The New Yorker dives into a rather absurd dust-up between President Trump’s supporters and a YouTube channel about early American historical reenactment.

Class in Session Last week’s issue of the New York Times Magazine was full of fascinating insights into education history, but I’d start with this Mosi Secret story about the group of boys who integrated an elite Southern prep school in the 1960s.

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