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Catherine Karnow and photos of General Giap

Thu, 25 Sep 2014 . Last updated Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:50

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Catherine Karnow owns unique photo collection on General Vo Nguyen Giap and his family members. Through her photo collection, Vietnamese people have the chance to relive some of memories of the national world hero – General Vo Nguyen Giap.

Catherine Karnow is an acclaimed American photographer who works for National Geographic. She was the only western journalist who accompanied with General in his historic visit back to Dien Bien Phu in 1994. She also embraces a certain special friendship that the family of the General has extended to her over the years. 

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Catherine Karnow is a daughter of American journalist Stanley Karnow. San Francisco-based photographer Catherine Karnow is known for vibrant, emotional and sensitive style photographing. Karnow has captured the Australian autochthons, Bombay film stars, victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, Connecticut high society and an Albanian farm family. In 1994, she was only non Vietnamese photo journalist who accompanied General Giap on his historic first return to the force encampment and in the northern Vietnam highland from which he plotted the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Catherine work appears in the National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, French and German GEO and other international publications.

Her father was the acclaim historian and journalist, Staney Karnow. In 1990, he came to Vietnam to do an interview for New York Times to interview General Giap. That was in March of 1990, and she had been thinking about coming to Vietnam around that time. So when she came in July 199o, it was not difficult to get permission to meet with and to photograph the General and his family. In 1990, the first time she met the Great General Vo Nguyen Giap the national hero of Vietnam, she was nervous. But quite quickly she was putting ease by his graciousness and politeness toward her and also because his wife was more jolly and welcoming. She was a journalist interviewing him, she wished becoming a friend, and a photographer interested in capturing really good portrait and also photographing his family.

 Twenty years have passed since Catherine accompanied General Vo Nguyen Giap on his historic visit to back in 1994, but the memory still are very fresh with Catherine. During this trip, she was able to revisit Dien Bien Phu City as well as Muong Phang. She remembered coming here when it took hours to reach Muong Phang from Dien Bien Phu. When she arrived, the field was already filled with hundreds of people waiting for the General to arrive. Villagers took a small group and children’s flags waved under the sun. To pass the time, she photographed the people including ethnic tribal minorities.  Finally, the helicopter swooped down from the sky, the people shouted and waved. The local people were so happy to see him and his own joy was evidence as he and his family greeted the villagers, some he had not seen in 40 years. Clearly, the gratitude with these people was so important to him.

 It is hard to imagine that this now busy northwestern city was once the heart of a fierce battle the backdrop to the historic Dien Bien Phu victory. Since General Giap passing in October, 2013 this would be the first time the general family including his grandchildren and great-grandchildren visit the area. Yet this visit was not only about the really history but also an inspiration for future generations. For the younger generations of General Giap family, such visit has been a chance not only to relive their forefather legacy but also to gain a deeper appreciation for the peace and prosperity that they are enjoying, feeling a strong sense of motivation for the future.

 

Source: VTV4 – VTV.vn

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