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Vietnam Perspectives

September 17, 2016

We have often talked about the lunacy of the Vietnam War so we decided to take our grandson, Story, to see the Cuu Chi tunnels south of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Many years ago, the author's company built a primary school there as our contribution to a social responsibility program. The Prime Minister of Vietnam joined the author at the ground breaking ceremony but, as he was running a bit late, we decided to have a rest in the Cuu Chi Party Headquarters. I would hazard a guess that most tourists do not visit that location. It was there I saw a monument to the Hero Mothers of Vietnam who lost five or more children to the war. Cuu Chi, some twelve kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, had the greatest number of "Hero Mothers" in all of Vietnam. In fact, the hamlet with a population of 12,000 at the onset of the war, lost 8,000 of its people to the war, many of whom died in the B-52 carpet bombings.

When you go through the tunnels and see the horrible conditions in which the people lived during the war and the monstrous booby traps they created to inflict an equivalent impact on the people they viewed as the "American invaders," one can easily begin to question the values of humanity. However, our guide said, "Leave all of that behind and remember, the Americans showed a compassionate side that is rare in wartime."

He subsequently sent me some photographs which I will share to illustrate that all of the bombings by the U.S. and booby traps on the part of the Viet Cong may have been mitigated by some heroic and caring acts during the war.

Maybe one can find the basic decency of people even in very bad war situations such as those exhibited by these images taken in Vietnam at the time. In literature, there is some measure of debate regarding the source of the quote: "In war, truth is the first casualty" though Aeschylus is generally recognized as the source. The author would add that that the adage extends to before, during and after the war. Moreover, few people have clean hands and can atone for those lost.



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