“Vietnam: Our Father Daughter Journey”
Photographs and book signing by Ed and Zoeanne Murphy. Opening 6-9 p.m. Feb. 2.
52 James Street
Fourth Floor, Albany NY
Click more for a Times Union story about the father-daughter book of photos and essays.
A journey across the years to Vietnam
Father and daughter write book about impact of war on their lives over the decades
By RICK CLEMENSON, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, January 25, 2007
TROY — Zoeann Murphy knew more about Vietnam by the time she was 8 than many people learn in a lifetime.
She knew the culture, the music, the food and had even seen some Vietnamese films. More importantly, she knew her father Ed Murphy served there in the Central Highlands in 1968 and 1969, a life changing experience so powerful he dealt with it the best way he knew how: He talked about it, often with Zoeann and her brother Jack. In everyday conversations. At the dinner table. He decorated the family’s home in Saratoga Springs with Vietnamese artifacts, spoke fluent Vietnamese and later entertained thoughts of moving the family there to help facilitate reconciliation between the United States and Vietnam.
His feelings about the country, the war and how it affected him and his parenting are documented in a series of essays in the book, “Vietnam: Our Father Daughter Journey,”a collaborative effort between Ed and Zoeann released last year.
Zoeann, a 1999 graduate of Emma Willard School who is now a photographer at a Troy studio, took many of the photographs that appear in the book on a trip to Vietnam with her father in 2001. The book and a photo exhibit of their trip will be featured at Albany First Fridays — an effort by several galleries to promote the city’s art scene — on Feb. 2.
“It was therapeutic and an incredible learning experience,” Zoeann said of writing the book with her father over a two-year span. “I learned about what he saw, and he learned that Vietnam was always with me. That through him, it had become a part of my life too.”
“I’ve wanted to do this for 30 years, but now I can do it with a peaceful perspective,” Ed Murphy said. “It’s intimate in many ways.”
Zoeann plans on returning to Vietnam in September to deliver cameras so citizens there can document their lives. She will go without her father.
The exhibit’s black and white photos show Ed as a young man dressed in military garb with other young men at base camp in the Central Highlands. The color photos show Ed, now 61, with Zoeann on their trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Along the way Zoeann snapped shots of locals working on roads, artists creating sculptures and everyday life in the country.
Father and daughter later traveled to Laos where they attended a conference on poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Murphy’s been trying to help rebuild Vietnam since he first returned there in 1991 and has visited several times since. The early trips were focused on healing — his and the country’s — bringing in investors and lifting a United Nations embargo, which occurred in 1994.
He created Pathfinders Institute with his wife Lin to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome get the therapy they need.
Murphy has been as vocal in his support of the country as he was in opposition of the war. He joined veterans groups against the war almost as soon as he returned from his tour and was actively involved in peace work. He sees parallels between Vietnam and Iraq.
“We seem to have an inability to deal with other cultures. We think military force can create democracies, which it can’t,” said Murphy, a Staten Island transplant who now lives in Malta.
More than anything, he hopes to pass on the lessons he’s learned and inspire other veterans to talk about their experiences through the book. He believes this is especially critical at a time when a new generation of veterans is being created every day.
“The hope is mother and daughters, fathers and sons can talk about these things,” Murphy said. “A lot of people don’t know how to.”