For forty million people who are closely related to the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam War will never be over, concludes award-winning photojournalist Larry Powell in his new book "Hunger of the Heart: Communion at the Wall."
As Powell says, "Although Americans have traditionally honored their war dead, never before in history has the country witnessed such an outpouring of raw emotion as that which occurs at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial."
That emotion is captured in the pages of his book.
Each year more than one million people visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. At this healing Wall, silent witnesses leave their gifts, which number over 30,000. Each gift is a meaningful, personal tribute, a thread between the living and the dead, tying the present to the past.
Larry Powell, a Vietnam veteran, has spent eight years at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial documenting those who come and the gifts they bring. His photographs are valuable and rich because he preserves the environment in which the gifts were recorded--the Wall, the people, the gifts are one.
Through Powell's images, we are invited to share our neighbor's pain and to visually sort through their personal treasures and expressions of love. We are allowed to handle another's precious belongings with the fingers of our eyes and hearts.
The gifts left at the Memorial are as varied as the visitors themselves. They include a package of cigarettes, representing a debt ultimately repaid; a Congressional Medal of Honor, left out of anger and frustration over American foreign policy; wreaths; POW/MIA bracelets; letters; and the ashes of Robert McNamara's book. As one donor wrote:
"Here are the battle ribbons awarded to you for giving your life at Con Thien, South Viet-Nam, Sept 7, 67. You will never see them. You will never wear them. But you deserve them. I thought you should have them."Like those he photographs, Powell, too, leaves gifts. His offerings are images of people trying to cope. His photographs remind us that for thousands of suffering souls, their war is not over.
When I saw your presentation on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I was overwhelmed by the power and simplicity of the pictures. I returned to work at the "Chicago Tribune" and talked with several photographers and picture editors about your presentation.
The photographs Mr. Powell took of visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial capture, in a most revealing and poignant manner, the depth and variety of emotions evoked by "the Wall."
Publication of "Hunger of the Heart: Communion at the Wall" will be November to coincide with Veteran's Day, November 11.
To order, please call 1-800-557-9867 or
Send your name, address, phone number, and payment ($18.95/copy, plus $3.00 shipping/handling for the first book and $.50 S/H for each additional book) to:
For more information contact Sharon Cruse at 1-800-557-9867.