A new book showcases photography from North Carolina veterans of the Vietnam War. It was born out of a local project that became a national traveling exhibition: “A Thousand Words: Photographs By Vietnam Veterans.”

Navy veteran and Winston-Salem native Martin Tucker reviewed roughly 4,000 images for the book. Some include the horrors of battle, but most capture intimate moments seldom before seen — soldiers bathing in artillery holes after weeks in the field, or hunched over in silent prayer.

Photo submitted by Robert Karraker, U.S. Army, 1969. Karraker is a retired hospital worker who lives in Winston-Salem.

Adding to the impact are the captions that accompany each photo. They're often painful memories, Tucker says, written by the veterans themselves. 

“These men and women didn't get that parade — period,” says Tucker. “They changed clothes in the airport when they got to the states, and they put everything in a bag and they stuck [it] in the closet, and they stuck it in a shoebox and they stored it so far away that it wouldn't be something that they would have to think about.”

The award-winning photojournalist says most of the photographs in the new book, "Vietnam Photographs From North Carolina Veterans: The Memories They Brought Home," were taken on throwaway cameras, but the results were striking.

He says, “Even though they were dog-eared, and they were faded, and they were moldy — especially the slides — we could see through that to the quality of the image. The composition, I mean straight out of the camera — these aren't Photoshopped, they're not cropped, and the way they put their subjects in the photograph, and the way they looked for what was important, and the color even though some are in black and white — I mean they're stunning!”

Tonight, at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art in Winston-Salem, he'll discuss those photos, and share stories alongside some of the veterans who took them. 

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