Monday, March 15, 2010

Conversation with a Vietnam Vet

This weekend I spoke with a Vietnam vet at the Writer's Intensive in Cincinnati. In addition I spoke with an author online last week, also a vet. What struck me was the raw sensitivity they both still possessed to the war and the pain it causes even now in 2010, long after the 1975 abrupt and jagged pull out of American forces as the Northern communists pushed the last leg of their takeover to the China Sea, and southerners scrambled to jump ships to the United States, uncertain or even terrified of their futures.

One man was in therapy for years and has come to terms, he says, with the anguish he suffered over the lack of support soldiers received as they experienced tortuous hardship and devastating attacks. The other remains haunted by the faces of little children, shot and killed or just maimed and left without family to wander lost and bereft. Both men seemed heartened and a little surprised when I told them of Thai Le's attitude toward Vietnam vets.

She and her family were thankful then and still today, that someone came to their aid and tried to preserve their lives as they knew it, in their own country, now renamed and reclaimed. So, it will be hard for Thai Le, I am sure, when she dedicates her book. I know her family comes first, but also in her heart, she wishes never to offend nor take away from the honor, of the soldiers who lost as much as she and her family did in the sickening saga that she knows Ho Chi Minh was responsible for, not the U.S.

As a child, I remember the negative view toward the war and the way it made people shun the problems soldiers had and their needs for medical and therapeutic attention that were often ignored as an inconvenience to America which wanted to forget the war, the war they turned their backs on. She may share the dedication of the book between her family and soldiers who fought for her right and her family's right to live free in their own free country. Does all of America know that the South Vietnamese felt this way? This is one of the premises of Child of South Vietnam, a memoir about Thai Le Nguyen.

By Amanda Griffith

Comments about the first chapter of Thai Le's memoir posted on Writer's Digest Community:

March 7
I've been reading your work and am very impressed. I have some emotional ties to that time period as well as Vietnam itself. It makes me very happy to see that some people were able to escape from the harsh confines of those times and are hopefully happier now. I would be deeply saddened to find out that our efforts over there were meaningless. So many of my friends died over there, and I was witness to the brutality of the Vietcong to women and children. Especially the children. I cry out yet in the middle of the night, reliving those days, crying for their sweet souls. Congratulations and keep up the good work. Tell a story that has to be told.

March 8
I am so happy to hear that all was not in vain, that we were fighting a righteous war. Every day I live with the nightmares that only war can bring. and it always comes back to the children. ALWAYS. And to think that one of MY SPECIAL CHILDREN is here and happy brings me so much joy. I know she's not a child any longer, but to me, she will always remain a child. Thank you both so very much.

Posted by Amanda Griffith

1 comment:

  1. Keep this going. Please. You never know who you will touch. This is a great journey through a completely different viewpoint.
    Thank you.