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Burst of Joy” Photograph: The Iconic Photo from the Vietnam War with a Tragic Backstory

Remember the iconic "Burst of Joy" photograph from the Vietnam War? This image of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Stirm's homecoming actually had a tragic backstory. Learn more about this iconic image and its history.
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Who doesn’t remember or recognize this iconic photo from the Vietnam War? This image was taken in on March 17th, 1973 by Sal Veder at Travis Air Force Base. Burst of Joy was a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph showing Lieutenant Colonel Robert Stirm, former prisoner of war was returning home as part of Operation Homecoming. He had been released just three days prior after being held captive for nearly five-and-a-half years after being shot down over Hanoi in 1967.

The sad backstory behind it is that Stirm received a letter from his wife, the day he was released. In the letter, she stated that she had fallen in love with another man. The following year the two of them divorced.

The story behind the photo, which really symbolized the end of the tragic Vietnam War, had a tragic side of its own.

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