Saturday, July 17, 2010

Midnight Spy Search

The village where I grew up in Viet Nam during my childhood years was a beautiful place, and the neighbors were always looking out for each other. We were like one big family. There were  other villages around us just like us, but we did not know most of them.  One evening, when I was about five or six years old,  the city official came to our home and told us we needed to evacuate the village because they believed we may have communist spies who came to live within us.  They wanted all of us to move to the city and spend the night in the city hall building so they could identify us.

My mom told us to pack an overnight bag, and we crossed over the bridge into Bong Son.  The building was  crowded;  therefore, people that lived next to the building offered their homes to some families to relieve the overcrowding.  We stayed at our great uncle's house, which was across from city hall.  That night we had to sleep on the floor with other people.  I remember I was lying next to my mom. She had a blanket to keep me warm.  In the middle of the night, a group of soldiers came in and woke us up by pointing their flashlights in our faces.  I was very terrified and started to cry.  My mom told me it was okay, not to cry and not to make a scene.  These men came in and looked  at everybody's faces to make sure that there were no unfamiliar faces. They asked the adults a few questions and left.

I did not have a good night of sleep after that.  The floor was uncomfortable, and there were too many people in the house.  Most of all, I was terrified of the soldier's with flashlights.  I did not know who or what those official men were looking for, and why my dad was not there to vouch for his family.  I asked my mom about it the next morning on our way back to the village.  She explained that the soldiers had to make sure that we did not have enemy strangers sneak into our neighborhood to hurt us. Even though dad worked in the city, we had to go through the event just like everybody else, no exceptions.

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 4th, Freedom in America, but Still no Freedom for Vietnam

We are celebrating Fourth of July.  Independence and freedom are something that every human being wishes to have but not everyone gets them.  Many people have to sacrifice everything.  And I am thinking of my
people...of how many decades have gone by and how many lives have died for "Independence and Freedom"?

Yet, my people, my country is still not able to call what we are having in Viet Nam freedom.
Happy 4th of July!
Thai Le

I found this information about the Vietnamese Government. Interesting, diplomatic way of expressing how ineffective socialism has been implemented by the Viet Cong:

Red tape and regulations
As in most countries, bureaucracy is a problem in Vietnam. ‘Law’ is a comparatively new concept (until the 1990’s, Vietnam had no further education law institutions). Much legislation takes the form or regulations and circulars that are passed down to local level for implementation. Interpretations often differ from area to area, and much paperwork is generated in attempts to standardize procedures.

Much administration involves more than one ministry. As communication is almost entirely vertical, there is little co-ordination between different ministries and Departments leading to long delays and frustration. Recently, the government has tried to speed things up by laying down time limits for particular activities, but bureaucrats everywhere are skilled in the art of finding exceptions to such rules and generating more forms to be completed.

Amanda Griffith

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tear Gas and Agent Orange

Have you ever experienced inhaling tear gas?  I have many times during my childhood in Thac Da village.  I did not know how or why it happened or who was it coming from.

The picture to the left is of  Vietnamese Agent Orange victims.  The North Vietnamese display this in Ho Chi Minh City to criticize the U.S. for its use in the Vietnam War. 

The villagers were just going about their daily business, and then we would first sense this strong smell in the wind blowing by our neighborhood.  My mom would rush us all to the well. She would wet cloths and pass it along to all of us.  We then rushed to brook  where there were water and lots of wind to help us deal with our breathing better.

This was the most horrifying smell of all.  As we breathed, it would follow in to our nostrils, down our throats, our eyes would tear and we felt like we were going to die of gagging .  I do not know how to describe this feeling except  I know it was horrible and do not ever wish this upon anybody.

Today,  sometimes my sisters and I  visit with each other.  As we grow older, we seem to forget
things, but we often tease one another that we are not old, we are just having side effects from "tear gas and Agent Orange."