05/13/18: Cu Chi tunnels

In visiting the Cu Chi tunnels, I felt that history was brought to life and made much more relevant. It was impactful to be able to see and experience things that were actually used during the war in fighting. The Viet Cong made use of the tunnels as places to hide from American forces, so as to obscure their movements and to be able to perform surprise attacks. Because of this, the tunnel system had living spaces including bedrooms and kitchens so that the Viet Cong could remain hidden underground for extended periods of time. The tunnel exits and entrances were camouflaged so as to prevent them from being found. This camouflage could go as far as to utilizing the river as an entrance to the tunnel system with the tunnel opening into the river bank underwater so that anyone who wished to enter would have to swim to it to do so. Furthermore, the Viet Cong even took measures to hide the smoke from any cooking done within the tunnels, channeling it far away and digging caverns to hold the smoke underground so that only minimal amounts were released above ground. The Viet Cong also took secrecy so far as to cover their faces with masks and to use code names when operating in the tunnels so that if anyone was captured they could give no information as to who else was involved. Each unit operating within the tunnel system also only knew the layout for their section of the tunnel system which contributed to maintaining secrecy.  

It was interesting to hear about the war from the perspective of the Vietnamese government. It is very clear that the stance they take on the war is that the Americans were an enemy that came to destroy and conquer Vietnam, and that this was a war that was practically unprovoked and unnecessary. A large amount of the information presented, at least in the video that was shown today at the tunnels, seems to be skewed to fit that perspective. Growing up in the United States, I definitely had a different point of view, mostly being taught that the war was one meant to stop the spread of communism and to provide aid to the South Vietnamese. I think that the real truth lies somewhere between this American point of view and the Vietnamese point of view and that the way information is presented in each country points towards the goals of those presenting the information.

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