On our second day trip this weekend, we visited Cu Chi today. As Cu Chi is famously known for, we learned all about the tunnels and history, The Viet Cong soldiers were able to use tunnels to surprise American soldiers and protect their family from the bombings. They had hospitals, meeting bunkers, and housing underground for Viet Cong to use to strategize. The tunnels are rounded arches and they are still in very good condition. They have strung light bulbs along the pathways too. They aren’t terribly small either. I was able to walk crouched over with my backpack on through most of them. The entrances were hidden, usually under a bamboo piece or under a person’s bed. However, they still placed booby traps inside the tunnels in case soldiers came into the system. The tunnels needed an experts memory to remember where to go if they’re important.
The war is displayed very differently in Vietnam. The Communist government paints a different picture than we have seen in America. I do agree with the statement “history is written by the victors,” especially in Vietnam. The communist government has the ability to say what they want about whatever country and battle that has happened. At Cu Chi, we had to watch a video documentary about the war, and they called Americans the “Devils” because we shot men, women, children, pots, pans, and chickens. We had no respect for human rights in their eyes. In this case, because the North won, they can talk about how anyone who assisted the south was an enemy. It was shocking to hear that word being thrown around about American troops, as an American myself who is proud to be an American. I think there are two sides to every story, but choosing to only see one is not the way to handle situations. Seeing the view of the war holistically after seeing how America views it at home compared to how they feel here, I definitely feel as though gaps were filled in and the story just proves we have room to grow as a pair of two nations. What was incredible is to compare the fact we learned at the consulate about the Vietnamese’s 94% approval rating of Americans to this video made years and years ago that is calling us devils. It speaks a lot to our government’s ability to bridge a gap and make up for our wrong doings during the war. Everyone I have come into contact with here has been extremely friendly and kind to us. I haven’t met anyone with any sort of resentment towards Americans. This fact definitely proves the development of Vietnam and lends a hand towards their development on a global level. They are becoming a more market-based economy, and I believe this key point is helping to open their minds and give them a global perspective.
Finally, to end the day we went to a cemetery for the Vietnamese soldiers from the war. You could definitely feel the somber tone at the cemetery. We performed a ceremony to honor the soldiers who had fallen. It was a difficult barrier to get past while we were there. We were having to remember and honor the exact people that soldiers from our country were killed by. It seemed wrong in a way, but also I understood that we still needed to pay respects for all the lives lost and the bloodshed because of our American soldiers. We all were pretty quiet while there. It took me a fairly long time pacing through the gravestones before I placed my first incense. I did not expect to feel that many emotions about this visit. It was a drizzly, gray day for the cemetery, and I feel as though the weather has never been more appropriate.