(Seguin) -- David Parks who is known for capturing a moment in time through a lens says his recent visit to Seguin has left him with an even larger impression and image of the community's love for art and its veterans.
David Parks, an American photographer, film director, publicist and author, was recently the special guest at this year's first ever Seguin Art League Veterans Visual Art Exhibit at the American Legion Hall.
Parks, the son of the late photographer and director Gordon Parks, says his experience as both a photo journalist -- having been published in Time-Life, Ebony, Look, Vogue and Glamour magazines -- and as a Purple Heart recipient, for his combat in the Vietnam War has given him an appreciation for Seguin's new and unique commitment to bring veterans and art together.
Gordon Parks is known for being the first black photographer of Life Magazine. It was no doubt the experience with his father, that allowed David the opportunity to also travel the world bringing his work back to the people through pictures and now film. Credited with various well known pieces, it might just be his book “GI Diary” that is giving way for a new told version of the Vietnam War
plus a new way of healing.
According to Parks, GI Diary, is a collection of writings and photographs documenting his experience as an African-American soldier in the Vietnam War.
"This is a historical document now. It's in the Library of Congress. The state gave me a proclamation for my historical work. I mean it's 50-years-old. That's long enough and it survived. It tells a story that's not politically correct. It was historically correct at the time -- from the soldiers point of view, not from the generals, not from the politicians. I wrote this because when I was doing the diary, I wasn't thinking about it being published. I was just keeping a record of my experiences," said Parks.
Published in 1968, Parks says the book is resurrecting a new interest following the 50th anniversary of America pulling out of the war.
"I just documented my every day existence because I knew I was going to die. That might sound cruel, but when you're in a war man, you don't think you're going to live another day. I wanted to give this diary down as a record for my family, so they'd know what I was going through over there, but I didn't write it in a journalistic style. I wrote it in a diary style. So I was writing, it's raw. 'I got up this morning,' blah, blah, 'nothing happened, boom.' Next day, this happened and I was wounded twice. I just recorded exactly what I was going through. There wasn't no fluff. This is just raw, raw diary stuff and people liked it. It was one of the best 10 sellers in the country when it came out, top 10, because they saw it as a different point of view than from what they were getting in the newspapers and TV," said Parks.
For him, the book is more than just a credit to his list of accomplishments. Parks says it is a piece that has helped him to survive.
"I'll tell you what it did for me. It got it out -- which is I was able to get out the frustration of war -- in the existence of what it's like to be in a war situation. Then writing it, the therapy was getting it out. Once I got it out, I didn't think about it. I didn't have nightmares coming back. I didn't have PTSD. I didn't have any of that stuff because I had already gotten it out of my system. I think that now there are programs in the VA that have the soldiers write down their experiences. Once you do that, once you've cleansed your mind of the horror -- the war is horror -- I mean there's nothing beautiful about it. There's no Hollywood, John Wayne thing. It's purely hell, no matter what you do and say. I think that in doing what I did and once I got back and they wanted to do the book and I worked on helping them edit stuff and photography and all of that, it just got out and it never went back in. So I haven't had really a restless night since I've been back. I think that's one of the major things that I realized that it did for me," said Parks.
Parks says he credits the Seguin community for giving area veterans their chance to heal or just "take a break" by showcasing their "work" or artwork as accomplished by last week's art show.
He says like his book “GI Diary,” he never saw it as a piece to be published but in the end became a very valuable part of his life.
Parks began his two-year tour in the U.S. Army in 1965 including eight months of combat in Vietnam. He is also credited for such films and documentaries such as "Leadbelly, Buffalo Soldiers, Shaft, The Great White Hope and Superfly."