I am now in Ho Chi Minh City, just came back from a Vietnam War Memorial here. I went to a place with a similar name when I was in Washington DC 2 years ago, but the similarity ends in the name. Inside, both places tell two different stories, but of the same event.
Throughout my teenage years, I've always been fed by the Washington side of the story through movies like Rambo and video games like Battlefield and Call of Duty. Ultimately, I was fed by those stories again through the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. All the while I was there, the tourist guide and signages keep sending these messages into my brain: ''These American people fought for democracy, even for strangers far away from home'', ''They are freeing the Vietnamese from oppression and poverty'', ''This is a war for human rights''. Oh, you know all those American government bullshit
After my visit to Ho Chi Minh Vietnam War Memorial today, I realize how naive was I to believe what I heard and saw in Washington. So many details of the war were left out. Now that I've seen the pictures and videos of the American people during their occupation in Vietnam, I even despise playing Call of Duty: Black Ops killing the Vietnamese. I'd rather play the game now, turn on 'friendly fire' and shoot all my comrades, even if it means: ''Game Over, Friendly Fire Are Not Tolerated''.
In the memorial here in Ho Chi Minh, there were many accounts of the Vietnam war as seen by the Vietnamese themselves. There was a video of one American soldier shooting a young civilian just walking by the city, a photo of a mother and a young daughter burning to death by the American chemical weapon, and a whole lot of B-52 bombers bombing the villages along with its innocent people (Not to mention how many Vietnamese were raped during their occupation here). Nope, you won't see this in Washington.
There was no freeing the people from oppression and giving them democracy by the Americans. They were free and well off before the American came. When thay came in 1954 and install their puppet Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam, the people there revolted against him in a series of attacks and demonstrations. Why would the local people attack someone claiming to be 'freeing them from oppression'? Because they were not oppressed, and it is him who is oppressing the people
However, the Vietnamese were never stupid. They've driven away the French Army during the First Indochina war in the 1940s, and driving away the American Army from their country is just another day in their daily life. I have to respect the Vietnamese for winning the war against the Americans with such low technology and limited resources. The Chu Chi tunnel they built was absolutely amazing. They are so smart that they built kitchens underground, but diverting the smoke from their cooking somewhere else far away. So when they cook, the smoke comes out at someplace else where there's no inhabitants, and the Americans, seeing smoke frequently coming out of that area, thought that that was the place the Vietnamese were hiding. So they sent a whole lot of B-52 bombers to bomb that area, and the Vietnamese were happily enjoying the food they just cooked, laughing at the sounds of B-52 bombers wasting their ammunition killing no one in the jungles. Smart, aren't they?
It is funny how the Americans spent billions and sent thousands of their own people to die to take over such a small and poor country. I wonder what do they get after they have lost. Don't get me wrong. I am not anti-American. As a boy growing up in Boston, I was taught about the American values of acceptance, humanity and the dignity. I could only wonder why they're government are not run by people who taught me all the good values. If only their government practice what their citizens preach, America would earn a worldwide respect. Even today, years after the Vietnam war, the American government hasn't learn their lesson well. They continue invading other countries, now in the middle-east, for their greedy purposes. So there's only two types of American I hate: The politicians, and the soldiers stupid enough to stay in the American Army
The resilience of the Vietnamese people won them the war, and their resilience is still evident today, translated into economics and politics. The last of the American Army left Vietnam in 1975, that's just like 35 years ago, and today, Vietnam's economy is booming fast. Just take a city tour around Ho Chi Minh and you'll see what I mean. In comparison to my country, which has been free for 54 years, I wonder if someday they would surpass us? Or did they already?