Day 7: The Vietnam War in the Eyes of the Vietnamese

Today we had our day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels. They are a system of tunnels used for guerilla warfare during the Vietnam War. The Viet Cong used the tunnels to transport troops without being seen by American aircraft. On our tour, we saw tunnels and underground chambers for storage, cooking, meetings, surgery, and many other things. Around the tunnels, the Viet Cong set up traditional traps made out of bamboo spikes to protect the tunnels, and the entrances were camouflaged. We were shown part of a documentary about the Cu Chi fighters, and it was very interesting to see a different perspective of the war. It talked about their different heroes, such as a woman guerilla fighter who earned the “American Killer Award” from the Vietnamese government. They detailed different stories about Vietnamese soldiers during the war.
Then, we had traditional Vietnamese food at a restaurant beside a river and relaxed there for a bit. Finally, we headed to a military cemetery from the Vietnam war and gave our respects to the fallen soldiers with a flower and incense giving ceremony. There were a few Vietnamese students with us for the ceremony, but they didn’t seem to have any strong opinions regarding the war. Today, there is a very strong favorability rating of the US, and the students are very interested in US culture and media, so it is obvious that they do not have any hard feelings about the war. However, it was a little uncomfortable for me, listening to the Vietnamese rhetoric against Americans on the tour of the tunnels and graveyard. I felt strange during the flower giving ceremony, because although it is good to recognize their loss, it felt like it was questionably against America, even though I know it wasn’t. I think it made us all a little uncomfortable, in the way that comes when you are forced to see another perspective on an issue that you don’t necessarily agree with. Today allowed us all to gain a greater understanding of the complexities of the Vietnamese and American relationship.

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