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This Happened

This Happened — February 1: The Saigon Execution

On this day in 1968, Nguyễn Văn Lém, a member of the Viet Cong, was summarily executed for alleged war crimes in Saigon during the Vietnam War. An Associated Press photographer captured the execution in one of the most iconic images in war reporting history.

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Who witnessed the execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém?

When Nguyễn Văn Lém, a member of the Viet Cong, was summarily executed for alleged war crimes in Saigon during the Vietnam War, Võ Sửu, a cameraman for the U.S. TV network NBC, and Eddie Adams, an Associated Press photographer were there to witness and capture the event.

How did Eddie Adams photograph the execution?

Adams has said that at the time, he believed that Brigadier General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, Chief of the Republic of Vietnam National Police, was just going to threaten Lém, and took out his camera to record the event. The photograph he captured showed the moment the bullet entered Lém's head.

What happened to the Saigon execution photograph?

After being shared worldwide, the photograph electrified the anti-war movement in the United States. The photograph became famous in contemporary American journalism, and won Adams the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography.

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Society

A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

Photograph of a girl praying at a temple during Chinese Lunar New Year. She is burning incense.

Feb 20, 2015 - Huaibei, China - Chinese worshippers pray at a temple during the Lunar New Yeat

CPRESSPHOTO/ZUMA
Frédéric Schaeffer

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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