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  • Daily History Picture: POW Comes Home July 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Historical Pictures , trackback

    pow stirm greeted by family in 1973


    Lorrie Stirm Kitching [the girl running to greet her father, who had been released in 1973 after fives years in a Hanoi prison] ‘We have this very nice picture of a very happy moment, but every time I look at it, I remember the families that weren’t reunited, and the ones that aren’t being reunited today — many, many families — and I think, I’m one of the lucky ones.’

    31 Jul 2015: JCE writes ‘That photo, later called “Burst of Joy”, won  a Pulitzer in 1973. But the reality behind it is less joyous. In an unimaginably cruel twist of fate, three days before Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm met his ecstatic family on the tarmac of Travis AFB, CA, on March 17, 1973 – on the day he was released from five years of brutal North Vietnamese captivity – he was informed by a letter from his wife of 18 years (who is in the photo as well) that she had found someone else while Stirm was in captivity and was therefore leaving him. Within a year the couple were finally divorced, over Col. Stirm’s strenuous efforts. Even with such loving children as we see in the photo, how did that man bear his existence, after all the cruelty and injustice he had already suffered? I note that each of his children later hung copies of the reunion photo in their homes, but Col. Stirm could never bring himself to do so, finding it far too painful. “Burst of Joy” perhaps might have more accurately been called “Disintegration of a Family”.