JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 280
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bomb, I would tell him that we cannot change history, but we should try
to do good things for the present." These are the words Kim Phuc spoke
at the wall. I looked up the sticker's provenance on the website address-
artfromtheheart-: it belongs to "Incite: Women of Color Against Vio-
lence, Bay Area" (http://artfromtheheartltripod.com).35
The fact is, however, that the picture of the girl did change history.36
But how are we going to remember it? How will visual history seen from
the end of the twenty-first century remember September 1 1? Will it be the
image of the wounded towers that we saw repeated over and over on
television? Or a still image of patriotic response? In the black and white
moving inserts from Wag the Dog, an image ofthe marines raisingthe flag
at Mount Suribachi in the Pacific appears after that of the Napalm girl-
and Winston Churchill making the V for Victory sign. Indeed, the two
Pulitzer-prize winning photographs often appear together. Even if the
contrast is not spelled out, the difference between triumph and abjection
couldn't be clearer. The flag-raising photo was made into a postage stamp
when the war was over. The U.S. stamp commemorating September 11
is also that of a flag raising: the picture of three firemen raising the flag
at ground zero. The analogy-the visual intertext-was clear. What of
the towers, the flames, the people jumping? The cover of Newsweek on
September 24, 2002 produced an interesting compromise: the men in
heroic posture in the foreground; the flaming towers at the top. As of
summer 2003, the flag prevails.
But all is not said and done. The anniversaries as well as the future
memorial to commemorate the losses of Sept. 11 will necessarily revise
memory and decide on its icons, as national memory evolves, remember-
ing and forgetting. Anticipating the first anniversary of the catastrophe,
the New York Times Sunday Book Review (September 8, 2002) featured
a summary of books related to September 11. Highlighted above the
omnibus review was the haunting figure of the dust-covered woman that
the British newspaper had juxtaposed with that of Kim Phuc.
Will others make the connection between the unnamed woman's
blood-stained face of shock as she staggers away from the site of the Twin
Towers and the horror-struck girl running from American napalm?37
As we saw earlier, Joe McNally, the photographer sent by Life
magazine to follow up on the famous subjects of prizewinning images,
said about his task: "I knew I needed to see the scarring-otherwise there
would be no touch point to the original photograph" (Life. Classic 149).
McNally used the phrase "touch point" to mean point of reference; he
needed to create a concrete way for the viewer to connect to the original
Here’s what’s next.
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/26/: accessed February 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .