Yup, I’m surprised I fit through that too. Today we visited the Cu Chi tunnel system, a network of underground passages that protected Viet Cong soldiers. In the late 1940s, a tunnel passage was created to escape French soldiers. The same tunnel was expanded during the Vietnam War. Eventually, the system became very complex with three different levels and branching pathways. The Cu Chi tunnels proved invaluable during the war; soldiers inside the tunnel were untouchable by napalm or helicopters. The entrances were well hidden with leaves, and even if an enemy soldier got inside, several traps waited inside. In addition, soldiers were able to hear the footsteps of anyone above, allowing them to wrap behind the enemy and ambush them.
The tunnels were structurally sound, yet they were very small. The walls were made of hard stone. There were also some larger rooms, such as an infirmary, a kitchen, and a war planning area. Although tiny, the tunnels were extremely effective.
The Vietnamese government portrays the war as a gallant and heroic effort by its citizens. The video shown before our tour of the tunnels praised several heroes during the war, one being a girl who lost her father and began fighting. The saying that history is written by the victors is true to a degree. The Vietnamese government is notorious for silencing the press and limiting freedom of speech. With regards to the war, it will push its own narrative that Vietnam defended itself from invaders, and it will stray away from criticizing its own role in the war. In the Vietnam War, history is written by those who suffered, appearing on both sides.
Speaking to Vietnamese students about the war, I noticed a mutual awareness of U.S. and Vietnamese government propaganda. We are all aware that what our governments say is not necessarily true. With respect to globalization, this shows how Vietnam’s next generation will not be puppets of the government but rather independent and critical thinkers. They will be able to capitalize on Vietnam’s potential.
Afterwards, I visited a local craft shop and got some presents. These are a secret!
Tomorrow, I will dress my best.