I left this place deeply disturbed, but also more knowledgable than when I entered, which is I suppose the primary purpose of any museum, anywhere in the world, on any subject.
The story of the Vietnam war is well known, and not something I intend to expand on. What may be less well known though is the suffering still endured by the Vietnamese, almost 40 years on.
I didn’t know of the heroism shown by two American helicopter pilots who took at least 10 civilians to safety during the massacre of My Lai.
I’d also heard nothing about this:
To use a painful cliché, war is hell. Once war is finished though, provision should be made for reparation. This is just not the case in Vietnam.
To make this clear, I’m no white collar worker, never having served a day in the forces, criticising from afar. Those who have served in military operations understand only too well the ease with which such events can occur. Those who haven’t, and who often take decisions to send troops into areas of danger, cant.
I was somewhat surprised to see the framed medals below, but understand where he was coming from.
What saddened me whilst walking through this museum was the apparent total lack of interest from the USA to assist in ending the suffering still happening in the country. It is estimated that over 20% of the entire surface of the country still has unexploded ordnance left over from the war. On average, one person a week is either killed or injured from unexploded mines or cluster bombs.
There is now the issue of third generation Vietnamese children being born with hideous disfigurements, caused by the effects of Agent Orange and other poisons sprayed by the Americans during the war. The chemical, manufactured by Monsanto and Dow Corporation was effective as a herbicide, there is no doubt. Nearly 20 million gallons of the liquid were sprayed onto the forests of the country in an attempt to deprive the enemy cover from foliage. The Red Cross estimate that approximately one million Vietnamese have suffered effects since the end of the war, and the number is still rising. The American government refuses to accept these figures, saying they are grossly inflated and unreliable. For more on this subject, search for “Brian Driscoll” online, and look at his photographs.
(If you are unable to read this, I urge you to look it up on the internet, it’s there for all to see).
A touching letter, with sentiments that any parent, myself included, could only agree with.
War is ugly but sometimes necessary. Irrespective of whether the Vietnam war was necessary, what is totally necessary now is the funds to help this country clean up their land, to enable the farmers to once again work their land without fear of unexploded bombs maiming or killing them, which will in turn start to turn the economic wheels in the countryside.