The iconic Zippo lighter. For American GIs fighting in Vietnam, it was a tool and a talisman at the same time.
These Zippos belonged to US soldiers who engraved them with texts that are sometimes kind of optimistic, but more often pessimistic as hell.
Bradford Edwards, an American artist who has lived in Vietnam for 15 years, has examined, by his own estimate, more than 100,000 Zippos in the markets and back alleys of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. According to npr, Edwards calls the Zippos left behind “pure art without ambition” – personal narratives that capture the mixed emotions of a confusing time and place.
“You find everything on these lighters,”Edwards says. “And what you find mostly is this general feeling of young male Americans. People who were not happy about coming and were even less happy about being here. Feelings about the war, about the military, about how they were feeling personally, missing their girlfriends, drug use, sex, everything was on the lighter. There it was, a miniature little canvas, and there was an etching table, a vendor, and you just had whatever you wanted inscribed on it. So, it was for them.”
So then, here are some shocking Zippos from Vietnam.