To the Editor…

by on May 1, 2013

I enjoyed Anh Lê‚ article. I was a U.S. Army Transportation officer stationed in Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive. In 2006, I returned to Vietnam with my wife. This time as a tourist. We had three guides during our visit. Each asked us if this was our first trip to Vietnam. I told him that I was a Vietnam veteran, stationed in Saigon in 1967-68. Our Saigon guide told us that he was in the South Vietnam army and was stationed with the U.S. Marines in Danang. After the U.S. defeat, he tried twice to escape, but was caught both times. He spent 2-1/2 years in prison. He is now an independent tour guide. He then proceeded to point out some of the U.S. occupation sites, most of which have since been torn down to build office buildings and housing. Our Hue/Hoi An guide asked me if I had left any children behind. A bit of an indelicate question in front of my wife. I said no. Later we learned that he would have offered to assist me in finding these children if I had said yes. Our Hanoi/Halong Bay guide told us her father was in the North Vietnamese army and lost his leg in a landmine explosion. He still suffers pain.While in Vietnam, we picked up an English translation of a book called “The Sorrows of War” by Bao Ninh, a veteran of North Vietnam’s Youth Brigade. Of the five hundred who went to war with the brigade in 1969, he is one of ten who survived. It has been compared to Erich Remarque’s “All Quiet On the Western Front.” A compelling read.Did we learn anything from the Vietnam War? Apparently not, given our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. As George Hegel observed, “The one thing history undoubtedly teaches us is that people have never learned anything from History.”

This feedback was sent by:Ralph E. Stone from San Francisco, California

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