Monday, April 12, 2010

Surviving the Vietnam Gunfire

War (chien tranh) was something familiar and near during my childhood years. I could see, hear and feel it. I saw dead bodies carried up my village street. I heard war by the sound of cross gunfire every night, and I felt it when I saw my mom's hands and body trembling with fear and anger when someone we knew got hurt or was gone. I did not understand most of it but I knew it was not a good thing. Being so young, I did not have fear like an adults has.

We were just innocent children as any children anywhere else. After school, and dinner, before the sun set, we often gathered on our street to play games until we were called to come home.

We were attacked by the Viet Cong often. The attacks usually came suddenly and if early in the evening, the villagers would receive a warning just within minutes from our neighborhood's captain. We were all taught if we heard this announcement, "We are under attack, go to your nearest hideout." Everybody would run home if close. Otherwise, we knew to run to whichever neighbor was the closest. We were a tight knit family. The adult villagers knew to take care of the children and each other if our parents were not there.

Some family's hideouts were in a closed room, but most of us had an underground hole, away from the house, just in case the house was hit and collapsed. We would stay in the ground for half an hour to an hour or sometimes longer. We would know to go into hiding if we heard shooting becoming louder, heavier and more intense. We would peep out of the hole and see the fire brighten the sky. Then we would hear a bomb hit somewhere. As always, my mom and the villagers in the hideout together would initiate the prayers. Sometimes the crossfire lasted so long, I would become tired and fall asleep.

As an adult now, these memories are always in my heart. Maybe that's why I do not ever like to watch a war movie or see a news report about war. My heart saddens when I think of all those soldiers who fought for South Viet Nam to protect our land, lives, and freedom. I also think of those North soldiers who sacrificed for a cause they probably truly believed in. They thought they were doing the right thing, did not know they were manipulated by their power, blood hungry leaders. This is a prayer for those who fought for Viet Nam and in their heart they believe their sacrifice were for my mother land, regardless of what. Thank you.

by Thai Le Nguyen

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