Whose Vietnam War? Mine, Yours, Theirs?
Today, on this the 40th anniversary of the fall of Sài Gòn, I’m reading Where the Ashes Are: The Odyssey of a Vietnamese Family by Nguyễn Quí Đức. There is a wikipedia entry on him, in English only (not yet in Vietnamese).
Fittingly, in English only (so far, and not yet in Vietnamese), in the Washington Post for today, he writes; the question is “Whose Vietnam War?”
To this day, the Vietnamese government celebrates its victory on April 30, and throughout the country grand official celebrations have been orchestrated for this year’s 40th anniversary. Yet few Vietnamese are paying attention, and for those who are, the regime’s attempt to glorify its past only seems to underline its failures at present.
In America, I used to have to explain that “Vietnam” wasn’t just a war, but a country with a history, a culture and a people. Here the Vietnamese accuse me of being obsessed with the war — the American War, as they call it. It’s true that for me and many Americans, “Nam” is still on in some ways, with stubborn questions about what went wrong then and how the same mistakes are still being made, in Iraq and Afghanistan. But most Vietnamese I know look on the war as an important moment in their history that has been usurped as a propaganda ploy.
You can find the rest of his important thoughts here.