Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Flashback: War Remnants Museum

This was our second tour in Vietnam and it was painfully sobering. Regardless of one’s “position” on the war, witnessing the suffering of people is hard.

I am purposely omitting many photos we took in the museum due to the graphic nature.

We read innumerable stories of horrible acts, saw terrifying pictures. There were several items highlighted where US troops had committed acts that they were not instructed to and Ron commented, “How are people supposed to be expected to be guided by their ‘moral compass’ when they are being instructed to kill day after day?”

I didn’t know much about the chemical warfare used in Vietnam prior to this visit. We saw photos of napalm burns, Agent Orange birth defects, etc.

War is disgustingly ugly, morally complicated at best and you have to wonder if anyone ever really “wins.” One thing I hadn’t thought a lot about prior to this trip is the price the civilians of a country pay during wartime. Granted, I haven’t had to think about this because we haven’t fought a major war on American soil in over a hundred years.

When the government that has the power authorizes aggression in the name of ideology, too often it is not the leaders, but the restaurant owners, the farmers, the moms and dads, the steel workers who suffer from bombs falling in retaliation. Especially in a governmental system that is not representative this seems so wholly unfair. The average citizen bears the consequences of the poor actions of a leader they had no opportunity to choose.

I have to say that after having spent over a month in Vietnam I was amazed at how graciously and kindly we were treated. When you see and hear so much pain caused by war, and much of the pain was caused by people from your country…I guess I expected a little more cold shoulder at least. But, not a single time. People were friendly, warm and interested. I was touched by their forgiveness and feel challenged & inspired to do the same.

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