Zippos are the best lighters. Dependable, solid, lovely to look at, they're a reminder of the lost elegance and grace of America. Artist Bradford Edwards collected over 280 Zippos that belonged to, and were personalized by, American GIs in the Vietnam War, and they tell a vivid, heartbreaking story.
The inscriptions, which GIs would get done at base or in the streets of Vietnamese cities, are by turn funny and sad and scary. Each lighter tells a story - a story of sadness, loneliness, fright or a soul deadened by the horrors of war. I look at these pictures and I want to know the journey of each lighter, about the man who had it in his pocket, about the terrors they saw and the hopes they had. The lettering is imprecise, the work of semi-careless craftsmen, and some of the spelling and grammar is off. Each of these images is so evocative to me that I feel like I could write a short story for every single one, a sub-Tim O'Brien tapestry of the war.
Comic book readers who look through these will find one that's very familiar - there's a Zippo inscribed 'Fuck Communism,' just like in Preacher.
By the way, this is my very favorite of the inscriptions:
Just about sums up the whole war.