I’ve never been a fan of any war. I’m a very simple person and I know it’s naïve but I think that we should all just live in peace and harmony. I know, I know shake your head and maybe don’t even read this post. It doesn’t bother me one bit. I have never understood people who choose violence in any situation. I know there are bad people out there and I get that. I also know there are politics and things I don’t understand. Things I don’t want to understand. I can’t explain how much sadness it brings me to see these war museums and read about the horrible monstrosities that took place where innocent children and civilians were killed. I will never understand how people can kill in cold blood.
The War Monuments Museum in Ho Chi Minh City was the first of two stops, in my history tourism in Vietnam. Many people had said it is a very tough experience. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here, I never want to live my life blindly, the war is a huge part of Vietnam’s past and it’s a big part of America’s past as well. The war has changed and shaped the lives of the Vietnamese people and I wanted to go so I could understand the culture better. As American’s, we remember the amount of US military loses and how it tore families apart and left many of our soldiers wounded, mentally unstable and unable to work when they returned, causing many of them to become homeless.
I know that there are always two sides to every story. However, this war monuments museum was very one sided. This made it even more heart breaking for me. They had very little information about how many Americans refused to join the war and that US people were conducting one of the largest Anti war movements of its time. Not only that, but many of the US soldiers were there against their will and didn’t want to support the war. No mention of how many US men fled to Canada to avoid being enlisted, and risked never being able to return to their country and their families.
On the first floor of the museum, where you enter, its much lighter. There are anti war posters showing the protests against the war and information about the rebuilding of Vietnam and the effects it has had on the country. Once you hit the second floor is when it gets heavy. The walls are covered in photos of the war with information about each photo. The first section covered a lot of the massacres and civilian casualties. There were several photos of woman, children and innocent unarmed people being brutally killed. I was crying within the first 2 minutes of entering the room. It was absolutely heart breaking. People don’t deserve to die this way. This isn’t what life is meant to be like. I cried the entire time as I walked through, I cried for every single person who suffered and for every life that was lost, because that’s all I can do.
They had a large section dedicated to the photographers who went to report about the war. Some of these photos were the hardest for me to see because they were capturing the horrific, brutal acts of the US soldiers. Again, there were no photos from the Vietnamese side showing them killing US soldiers, even though I know that did happen, but it’s not there to show you that there was two sides to this war. One very famous photo, which almost everyone has seen at least once in their lives, online or in their history books, had its own wall. It is a picture of children, one young girl naked and burned alive, running from US soldiers after a Napalm bomb had been deployed behind them. One of the soldiers was lighting a cigarette, completely unaffected. I’ve seen this photo before, but in this setting it had a very different impact on me.
I had a conversation with a few guys I met a few nights later and we talked a lot about the museum and how horrible it was. We talked about how the soldiers must have become so unsensitized by the war and did things that were so unimaginable. They had to throw out all of their morals and become people they were never meant to be. It was a coping mechanism for many of them I’m sure. I hope in a different setting back home, these soldiers would stop and help a burning child screaming for their lives. I have to believe that.
There was a large section about agent orange that was spread by the US to kill mass areas of people and land. The numbers were astounding. To think that it is still affecting people now through 4 generations of people suffering from birth defects. How terrible to have something so prominent, to remind the people today, of the war that was so many years ago. These were some of the worst birth defects I have ever seen. Through out the entire museum there are all kinds of different bombs, guns, artillery weapons, clothes of soldiers and masks warn during the agent orange operations. Outside the museum were many different tanks and fighter planes.
Leaving the museum I felt pretty numb. I didn’t feel like doing anything and I had no more tears to cry. I got myself some food and a beer and decided to blog for the rest of the day to try to clear my mind. Nothing really helped and I went to bed that night still in a state of shock.
The following day I went to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which was a much lighter experience. I booked a tour through my hostel and was picked up from there. The local tour guide was a very interesting man and I didn’t enjoy him at all. He had a lot, almost too much to say. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if he was joking about things he was saying and I didn’t appreciate his humor. He kept making comments like “I am not a good tour guide” and how he gets many bad reviews, and I understand why. The guy totally annoyed me and I stopped listening, which ruined my experience.
The Cu Chi tunnels are a 75 mile stretch and are a part of a large network of tunnels that helped aid the Vietcong against American forces in the War. The tunnels were very fascinating to see. It’s amazing how the Vietcong guerillas literally thought about everything. I have no idea how they survived underground. They had such an intricate tunnel system equipped with ventilation, traps and hidden holes. They had schools, hospitals, held official meetings, sent messages and supplies in between villages all underground. You can go down into the tunnels for a stretch to see what it is like. I went down and came out at the first opportunity. It was so small and cramped and I had to basically walk on my knees and my large American ass couldn’t fit through the small spaces. I felt extremely claustrophobic and my asthma flared for whatever reason. I emerged from a rabbit hole and instantly got my inhaler. I’m thoroughly impressed that people ever survived long periods of time down there. I didn’t even last a minute.
As you walk through the grounds you can see some of the many different types of traps that the Vietcong used to keep the US troops from getting into the tunnels. There are stations showing some of the different workshops that took place there where the people would make shoes, food and supplies. The grounds were quite beautiful, lots of green!
Subscribe To Join My Tribe
Join my tribe to receive info about my movements and updates when I post new content.