An Eye For Peace: By Janrose, The Woman In Marc Riboud's Photo

© Marc Riboud/Magnum Photos, Washington, DC, October 21, 1967

This guest blog post has been written by janrose, who was photographed by Marc Riboud in the famous image above.

Photographer Marc Riboud, who snapped the well-known photo of me holding up a flower in front of a National Guardsman during an anti-war protest in 1967, is a man of peace.  He was a member of the French Resistance movement that fought gallantly against the Nazi occupation during World War II.  No one but Marc could have perfectly captured this moment in my journey to understand "The War Machine.” 

I was a troubled 17-year-old who had butted up against “The Establishment” in many ways. I was passionate in my feeling that the war in Vietnam was wrong. For me at the time, it was proof perfect that the powers in Washington were corrupt and vile. All of the wrongs of the establishment and the horrors of that illegal war melded into the rhetorical monster, " The War Machine".  In my mind at the time, the soldiers were the "mongrels of death". 

I joined thousands of my comrades in peace in Washington, DC, marching from the Washington Monument and over the bridge to the Pentagon. I shouted, "Viva Che,”  (even though I had no idea at that time who or what a Che was!) only because it was what everyone around me was chanting. At one point, we marchers decided to break from the designated route. The soldiers knew this and lined up, forming a barricade to keep us in place. I confronted them, coming closer and closer, beseeching them to put down their guns and join us. I continued to shout, but as soon as I was close enough to really look into their eyes, my idea of “the war machine” melted away, and suddenly I realized that these soldiers were just young boys.  They could have been my brother, my date, my cousin....

Marc's camera captured my deep sadness as my realization bridged the gulf isolating and alienating me from those young men. The rhetorical facade melted away, reducing the monsters into mortals.

Precisely, at that moment, a simpatico resonated between me and those young soldiers. We were one.

If you look into my eyes in the photo, you will see this deep sadness, as I realized that they too were the victims of war.  

WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath will show at the Annenberg Space for Photography through June 2, 2013.