Lessons of the War
Van Nguyen Duong
         In the acknowledgements of my book The Tragedy of the Vietnam War, I wrote,
         "We maintain our pride for having once served in our Armed Forces to pursue aspirations of independence, justice, and freedom for our people. An army may be disbanded but its spirit is eternal. Such is the case of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces."

         Unfortunately we could not realize our dream and aspiration. On that bitter day of April 30th, 1975, we were forced to give up our arms. We agonizingly suffered the disbanding of our armed forces and the collapse of our democracy. The war was lost.
         More than 34 years after the end of the war, even overloaded with misfortune, many of us have still survive tediously haunted by the traumas of the past. I myself have experienced nightmares from the irritant war loss for thirteen years in different communist "reeducation camps." I have learned from these painful days that we could not change the past but had to get through it for a better change in the future. We have to learn our lessons from the past in order to build the future. It is also a better way for us to get away from traumas and to heal our wounded minds. I became determined to penetrate to the heart of these war matters for the purpose of clarifying my mind.

         I was released from these communist concentration camps in April 1988 and came to America in 1991. This blessed opportunity allowed me to realize my longing. Since September 1994, I have put myself into studying English, researching documents, and finding facts. I began to draft my first manuscript on the war in Vietnam. Fortunately after 15 years of hard work, determination, resilience and patience, I have achieved my goal. My work was published by McFarland & Company in September 2008.

         Immediately after seizing power in South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, the Vietnamese communist leaders sent more than 250,000 South Vietnamese officers, policemen and officials to their "reeducation camps" around the country for years. Thousands died of exhaustion from hard labor, hunger and illnesses. Others were killed by torture and execution in these camps unknown to the world. The communists chased out 300,000 of our disabled veterans and wounded soldiers from every military sanatorium or hospital transforming them into homeless people who have--since then--dragged their miserable lives in all corners of South Vietnam. Almost a million RVNAF officers' wives and children were forced to relocate to remote "new economic zones" to endure hard labor for living. Moreover, a few months later, they ordered people to dig up the graves of our heroes at cemeteries in Saigon, Biên Ḥa and throughout the South and to discard the remains so that plots could be used for the burial of communist soldiers. We suffered our pain in silence. It was tragic.

        Please read the rest of the story in WAR AND REMEMBERANCE.