Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Remnants of War

After checking out Reunification Palace, Ed, Carla, and Chris visited the emotional War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. Chris wrote:

Inside the War Remnants Museum we were confronted with disturbing images of the war. With documentation from a North Vietnamese perspective each image was displayed in gruesome detail. The whole exhibit was a reminder of why war should be avoided at all costs. There were sections of the museum that both my mother and father had to leave. I saw my mother tear up when seeing the affects that agent orange had on children. If that wasn’t bad enough, she had to leave yet again when she saw more images of the affects of agent orange still on children today. The brutal honesty of the museum was hard to take at some moments, maybe even most moments, but it was a truthful reflection of war from the people whose land the war was fought on.

Outside of the War Remnants Museum we saw a collection of old US war planes, tanks, and artillery. Right away, my father found the howitzer that he used to operate. I felt like I knew this large weapon personally. Over the past five years, since my father started talking about his involvement in the war, he has detailed his job as a gunner. As he stood at the howitzer he started to tell us again how the machine worked. It was nice to actually see one as he told the story. I imagined a 19 year old boy working this large metal creature. He retold the stories in great detail. It always seems like it is a load off of his chest every time he tells us about being a gunner and this time it seemed to be even more.

first full day in Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon to many, was full of emotions. We saw the affects of war and a country united. But there are things that can’t be seen, which are the most important parts of our trip. There are the memories of my father, both good and bad, the time in his life that is forever sealed in his memory, the times that he cannot get back or get away from. There are the many people who have been killed in war, who remain in the hearts of many still to this day. There is the confusion of war in general. But there is also the independence of a country that you cannot physically see. I am reminded of the people we have already met here since being in Vietnam. We can feel their intense pride in what they have accomplished as a people and as a country. They now have their country and they have been more than happy to share it with us and we are eternally grateful.

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