Flower Power (131 KB JPG) (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/17/AR2007031701300.html)
This particular image has always fascinated me because it depicts such a powerful a scene that even I myself as a writer do not feel words could get the point across in such an effective and moving manner. With this photograph outside of the Pentagon in 1967, a man by the name of Bernie Boston painted an eerily accurate depiction of the anti-Vietnam War protests and for what exactly it was that so many protesters stood. The man at the center of the photo placing flowers (carnations) into the barrels of the guns belonging to U.S. soldiers is George Harris III, and his is the face that will live forever as the physical representation of the term “Flower Power”. This photograph proves so iconic, in fact, that the only Google search criteria I used in order to relocate the photo for this post were the words “Flower Power Photograph”.
In one interview, Boston recalled that he had been ready to photograph the scene for the Washington Star after witnessing U.S. troops marching through the demonstrators with guns loaded and helmets on, he knew something important was about to happen. It was only once the soldiers had begun to corral the demonstrators that Harris decided to step up to the plate. With that single peaceful action, he was able to show the world what the anti-war movement was really all about- peace. After all, what better way to combat the violence of the war than with an innocent symbol of natural life, a flower.
The initial bombing of Northern Vietnam in 1965 at the hands of the U.S. military first sparked the fire that fueled the anti-war movement. It was at this point that Americans, specifically college age “hippies” and left wing political/social activists, began to question the true intentions of American involvement in Vietnam; were our troops really there to protect Southern Vietnam from communist rule? Another concern on the minds of skeptical young liberal Americans was whether we were handling the situation overseas correctly (or more specifically, if violence was the answer).
At the time the photo was taken, it received little publicity, but once Boston began entering it into photography competitions, it received almost immediate recognition and was even nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in late 1967. Some of the major attributes that makes this photograph so timeless, are its coloration and its quality; no pixelation, complete clarity, unfiltered black-and-white coloration, and a great angle from which an entire scene can be viewed clearly, without bias.