Execution In Saigon: The Famous Snapshot That Started The Anti-War Movement

By Jacob Shelton
Eddie Adams' photo as it appeared on the front page of the New York Times, February 2, 1968.

On February 1, 1968 the iconic photo of Nguyen Van Lem being executed on a street in Saigon went all the way around the world, exposing the realities of the Vietnam War. While this photo of Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan with his arm outstretched, firing directly into Lem’s head shows the brutality of war, it also doesn’t show any context for the moment. The photo, taken by Eddie Adams, shocked Americans who believed that the war was almost at an end. Adams won a Pulitzer for his work and man behind the trigger in the photo ended up dealing with the fallout from this photo for the rest of his life.