40 Of The Most Powerful Photographs Ever Taken

A moving collection of iconic photographs from the last 100 years that demonstrate the heartbreak of loss, the tremendous power of loyalty, and the triumph of the human spirit. Warning: Some of these will make you weep.

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Journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who had been arrested in North Korea and sentenced to 12 years hard labor, are reunited with their families in California after a successful diplomatic intervention by the U.S.

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Eight-year-old Christian Golczynski accepts the flag for his father, Marine Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski, during a memorial service. Marc Golczynski was shot on patrol during his second tour in Iraq (which he had volunteered for) just a few weeks before he was due to return home.

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Harold Whittles hears for the first time ever after a doctor places an earpiece in his left ear.

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Agim Shala, 2, is passed through a barbed wire fence into the hands of his grandparents at a camp run by United Arab Emirates in Albania as members of the Shala family are reunited after fleeing Kosovo.

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PoW Horace Greasley defiantly confronts Heinrich Himmler during an inspection of the camp he was confined in. Greasley also famously escaped from the camp and snuck back in more than 200 times to meet in secret with a local German girl he had fallen in love with.

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Jewish prisoners at the moment of their liberation from an internment camp “death train” near the Elbe in 1945.

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The 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute: African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists in a gesture of solidarity at the 1968 Olympic games. Australian Silver medalist Peter Norman wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of their protest. Both Americans were expelled from the games as a result.

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A French civilian cries in despair as Nazis occupy Paris during World War II.

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A dog is reunited with his owner following the tsunami in Japan in 2011.

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Retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis is arrested for participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011.

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A Russian war veteran kneels beside the tank he spent the war in, now a monument

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Jacqueline Kennedy wears her pink Chanel suit, still stained with the blood of her husband, as Lyndon Johnson takes the oath of office in Air Force One. According to Lady Bird Johnson, who was also present: “Her hair [was] falling in her face but [she was] very composed … I looked at her. Mrs. Kennedy’s dress was stained with blood. One leg was almost entirely covered with it and her right glove was caked, it was caked with blood – her husband’s blood. Somehow that was one of the most poignant sights – that immaculate woman, exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood.”

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John F. Kennedy Jr. salutes his father’s coffin along with the honor guard.

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Australian Scott Jones kisses his Canadian girlfriend Alex Thomas after she was knocked to the ground by a police officer’s riot shield in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadians rioted after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins.

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“La Jeune Fille a la Fleur,” a photograph by Marc Riboud, shows the young pacifist Jane Rose Kasmir planting a flower on the bayonets of guards at the Pentagon during a protest against the Vietnam War on October 21, 1967. The photograph would eventually become the symbol of the flower power movement.

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Sisters pose for the same photo three separate times, years apart.

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Phyllis Siegel, 76, left, and Connie Kopelov, 84, both of New York, embrace after becoming the first same-sex couple to get married at the Manhattan City Clerk’s office in 2011.

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Robert Peraza pauses at his son’s name on the 9/11 Memorial during the tenth anniversary ceremonies at the site of the World Trade Center.

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A Sudan People’s Liberation Army soldier stands at attention on the eve of South Sudan’s independence from Sudan.

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Navy chaplain Luis Padillo gives last rites to a soldier wounded by sniper fire during a revolt in Venezuela. (Héctor Rondón Lovera)

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Earthrise: A photo taken by astronaut William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.

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Pele and British captain Bobby Moore trade jerseys in 1970 as a sign of mutual respect during a World Cup that had been marred by racism.

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A Romanian child hands a heart-shaped balloon to riot police during protests against austerity measures in Bucharest.

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A German World War II prisoner, released by the Soviet Union, is reunited with his daughter. The child had not seen her father since she was one year old

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Tanisha Blevin, 5, holds the hand of fellow Hurricane Katrina victim Nita LaGarde, 105, as they are evacuated from the convention center in New Orleans

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U.S. Army troops wade ashore during the D-Day Normandy landings on June 6, 1944.

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Terri Gurrola is reunited with her daughter after serving in Iraq for 7 months.

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Helen Fisher kisses the hearse carrying the body of her 20-year-old cousin, Private Douglas Halliday, as he and six other fallen soldiers are brought through the town of Wootton Bassett in England.

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Tsunami in Japan

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“Wait For Me Daddy,” by Claude P. Dettloff, October 1, 1940: A line of soldiers march in British Columbia on their way to a waiting train as five-year-old Whitey Bernard tugs away from his mother’s hand to reach out for his father.

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Greg Cook hugs his dog Coco after finding her inside his destroyed home in Alabama following the Tornado in March, 2012.

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A 4-month-old baby girl in a pink bear suit is miraculously rescued from the rubble by soldiers after four days missing following the Japanese tsunami.

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A monk prays for an elderly man who had died suddenly while waiting for a train in Shanxi Taiyuan, China.

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A mother comforts her son in Concord, Alabama, near his house which was completely destroyed by a tornado in April of 2011.

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Another, recently unearthed photo of the Tank Man incident, which shows a new angle of his act of protest, now at a distance. Tank Man can be seen through the trees on the left, and the tanks can be seen on the far right.

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Christians protect Muslims during prayer in the midst of the uprisings in Cairo, Egypt, in 2011.

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A firefighter gives water to a koala during the devastating Black Saturday bushfires that burned across Victoria, Australia, in 2009.

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A dog named “Leao” sits for a second consecutive day at the grave of her owner, who died in the disastrous landslides near Rio de Janiero on January 15, 2011

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Comments
  1. Nisroc

    Too many of these photos are recent and do not really capture the power. The forth from the bottom for example is just two men running. I am shocked the little naked little girl in Vietnam was not a photo for this. Another bunch is powerful but very American and again recent. If you dig deeper the selection of photos would have been much more powerful. No disrespect though it is still a good selection just not the best IMO.

    • Chris

      And also the one with the monks setting themselves on fire is really cool (the Vietnam one)

    • Phoenix Starr

      if you read the caption for that photo, it says that it is a different angle of Tank Man…you know, the man that stood in front of the army tanks. it says that you can see him on the left…so technically it isn’t two men running as the focus, but he who is in the background.

  2. Asad Khan

    you have photographs of the relatives of the army who killed in iraq, afghanistan etc. and what about the childrens whose parents died in iraq, palestine, afghanistan etc. what about the parents whose childs killed, thr whole life got ruined by the US army.. thy dont have houses, food, supporters in the bad time. WAR IS HELL.. why US killing innocent people in the name of giving security or killing terrorist, everyone knows that they want thr oil, thr money etc. americans have thr own country to be ruined or to be make it good… do it in your own country,,, you dont have any right to go to the another land and destroy.. dont forgt that you have to go to the God one day, and he knows everything.

    • Dev7Datta

      This isn’t the place for that man. Just enjoy the photographs.

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