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CNN Today

'Requiem' Exhibits Work of Photographers Killed During Vietnam War

Aired March 10, 2000 - 1:32 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen is calling for China and Taiwan to tone down their rhetoric against each other. Cohen is in Hong Kong, the former British colony that was returned to Chinese control three years ago. Now China has focused on regaining control over Taiwan and has threatened military force if Taiwan declares independence. Cohen says both sides should work out their differences with peaceful negotiations.

Next week, Cohen will travel to Vietnam. His visit will coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam War. About 10,000 Vietnamese gathered today for a celebration of the key communist victory against U.S.-backed government forces. Observances also include an exhibit of pictures taken by photographers who died or disappeared during the war.

CNN's Tom Mintier takes us on a tour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, it may not be the most complete collection of photographs from the Vietnam War; it may be the most important. The exhibit, called "Requiem: The Vietnam Collection" is now on display in Hanoi, Vietnam, the pictures, nearly 300 of them, from 135 photo journalists from all sides who lost their lives in the war.

HORST FAAS, ASSOCIATED PRESS: We will never sit together and talk about the good old days of Vietnam because there were no good days. They were all bad days in a way.

MINTIER: Horst Faas knows it well. A Pulitzer prize winner, he was the Associated Press's chief photographer in Saigon from 1962 until 1973. The exhibit in Hanoi is a gift from the people of the American state of Kentucky to Vietnam. The Vietnamese photographers are also included here. More than 70 died taking pictures.

British photographer Tim Page developed the idea for "Requiem" as a way to honor his friends.

TIM PAGE, PHOTOGRAPHER: I think it's one of the most incredible bodies of work ever assembled photographically. It's even more incredible as you start to go through the book, which is a piece of music, a symphony almost, which is the art of the guy who designed it. But the fact is that so many of these frames were last frames retrieved from inside cameras, the last roll of film. And it's something kind of -- you're touching the spirit of the people who actually made those images.

MINTIER: Richard Lennon was a U.S. Marine Corps Captain in Vietnam. AP photographer Henry Hewitt worked with his unit. He helped bring the exhibit to Kentucky, and now here to Vietnam.

RICHARD LENNON, "REQUIEM: THE VIETNAM COLLECTION": Well I think, quite frankly, what happened was there work perhaps had more to do with the end of the war than anything because it told a pretty hard story. And I think the American people got tired of seeing these photographs night after night in every newspaper and every magazine and realized that this was a war we weren't going to win and it was time that we got out.

MINTIER: The images are haunting. Many were probably the photographers' last click of the shutter before dying. They showed the horror of war up close and personal. More than 30 years have passed since these pictures were taken, images that will last several lifetimes.

(on camera): The "Requiem" exhibit will reside permanently now in Vietnam. It will be moved in the middle of April to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the end of the war.

Tom Mintier, CNN, Hanoi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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