Thursday, November 12, 2009

Letters From Vietnam

It was weird, yesterday, on Veteran's day, to be in a country that marks such a significant yet simultaneously unfortunate event in American history. But us hamburger-loving, baseball-adoring, freedom-of-speech-abusing citizens of the U.S.A. are fortunate enough to be so far removed from the visible violations of wars past: there are no Cu Chi tunnels snaking below the surface of the Earth in the corn fields of Iowa, or land mines implanted by the enemy below the nests of alligator eggs in Florida's lush everglades. With the exception of the two terrorist attacks on December 7th, 1941 and September 11th, 2001, all of our country's major battles have been fought abroad. We have not seen our soldiers suffer the consequences of trench warfare on our own turf. We have not heard explosions from surprise bomb attacks miles away, knowing only all too well that those tanks will eventaully trudge their way toward us. We have lost loved ones because of it, seen video clips of it, and fiercely protested against it; but we have never seen war plowing toward us in our own backyard.

Sometimes, when I walk around Can Tho, I will notice an older man or woman look at me differently than the younger generation does. Their gaze is piercing. They are studying my every move. They don't seem curious, but rather, resentful. And I wonder if my face reminds them of someone they once knew; someone who was taken away from them by someone else who looked like me.

Below is a link to a website of letters from Vietnam, written by young and old soldiers alike. They are not letters composed by Vietnamese veterans, simply because I can't find any translated into English. But after reading a few of these recounts of irreconcilable ravage, I am deeply disconcerted to consider this fact: so many innocent men, women and children of all ages were forced to witness the goings-on of these events. And that makes me wonder just how, only 30-some years after the last battle was fought, I now find myself in this country who bows its humble head to the superpower that once drained it of every life and resource possible.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! While not physically with you, from regularly reading your Blog, I can get a feel as to how much you are growing through this experience.

    But occassionally one of your Posts, like the one above, totally blows me away as to your awareness of the world around you. You really are seeing the world in a mature light.