Food for Thought:
This is a portrait (with photos and words) of the Vietnam of today still ruled by the same communist government that won the 20-year war with America in 1975. The number of dead from America’s war in Vietnam (1955 – 1975) is in the millions. No one knows the exact number of those that were killed, but for civilian deaths in Vietnam alone ranges from 411,000 to two million.
And yet I often read that my country, the US is a land of “Americans that are for the most part, a peace and freedom loving country!”
That war took place in three countries: Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, More US bombs were dropped on these countries than all the bombs dropped in World War II. The fighting in Laos and Cambodia were never approved by the US Congress. The total number of civilian dead in all three countries killed by those bombs and bullets runs 1.48-million to more than four-million and that does not count the military deaths and casualties that would add as much as 2.67-million more in addition to the more than two-million wounded.
Between 1775 and the end of World War II in 1945 (one-hundred-and-seventy years), the US fought in seven wars.
Since World War II, the US has fought five wars in less than sixty-seven years and is still at war in Afghanistan.
Was Vietnam then or today ever a threat to the United States and its people?
I left Vietnam three weeks ago. Or was it even three weeks ago? Time stretches and compresses like a rubber band when we travel. I’ll go back. I saw a lot of the country but there is more to see.
During a break in class one day last fall, a sixth-grade girl named Thảo came up to me while I was writing on the chalkboard. Shyly, she referenced something I had said in the first half of the lesson. “Teacher, do you really love Vietnam?” Pausing, I looked at her and said, “Yes, I really love it.” Thảo’s face lit up and she skipped back to her seat.
I loved the way the neighbors’ four- and three-year olds came running up to me each afternoon when I arrived home from work, waving and smiling. “Hello, Cô tây! Hello, western aunt!” This, I learned, is the most important rule of travel: Always say…
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