|The War viewed from all Sides|
|Nghia M. Vo|
The war did not end when the guns died down. It continued for a long time and led to major political, administrative, and social upheaval,
during which people suffered more than throughout the war itself. Peace was another name for the réglement de compte: the punishment and
repression of the defeated.
Americans may remember Vietnam as a war, a country, or just a faint memory of the past. The South Vietnamese, however, still see, hear, and feel the pain, the anguish, the loss of a country they have fought so hard to build from the ground up.
Looking back, it was a fight for freedom, a fight against communism, a fight to preserve the freedom of the South. And the loss still scars them deeply.
I. THE VIETNAMESE
North Vietnamese soldiers were not always as heroic as described in the literature. Bao Ninh in his The Sorrow of War wrote about the North Vietnamese troops in the highlands, "Hungry, suffering successive bouts of malaria, the troops became anemic and their bodies broke out in ulcers, showing through worn and torn clothing. They looked like lepers." Worse, desertion was rife throughout the regiment." More than 250,000 hồi chánh (returnees) deserted to the South Vietnamese side during the war.
Even his stepfather warned The Sorrow of War's protagonist Kien,
"It is not that I advise you to respect your life more than anything else, but not to die uselessly for the needs of others."
In fact, many soldiers did not like the war.
We have so many of those damned idiots up there in the North enjoying the profits of war, but it's the sons of peasants who have to leave home... The ones who loved the war were not the young men but the others like the politicians, middle-aged men with fat bellies and short legs.
One crippled veteran said,
"Please ask the heroic general (Giap) if the General Offensive (the Tet Offensive) was worth it... tell him one of his soldiers, a lot of his soldiers, aren't sure."
|Please read the rest of the story in WAR AND REMEMBERANCE.|