The Enemy
Bac sy Nguyen Le Hieu
         Although the war has been over some 35 years ago, for many South Vietnamese, the memories are still vivid, the wound still very fresh. When veterans meet, they often recall their ordeals, their encounters with the adversaries, guys from the other side, the ENEMY. Their stories are part of ORAL HISTORY. Today, I will offer a different approach, not in a historical perspective, but one under the light of the humanities, especially how the war has shaped many aspects of my life, my feelings and my thoughts.

         I- THE ELUSIVE NOTION OF FRIENDS AND FOES
         We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty

         We all remember the inspirational Inauguration address by J. F. Kennedy in which he talked about friend and foe. It was such an uplifting speech filled with passion. It also implied that we perfectly knew who our friends and our foes were. Sometimes, that notion of friend-foe may be less than clear cut.

         On August 15, 778, Charlemagne's army returned from an unsuccessful expedition against the Moors in Spain. French rearguard was under Roland's command. It was ambushed at a western pass of the Pyrenees, the pass of Ronceveaux, by outnumbering Moors forces. The second-in-command Oliver was bleeding from a wound on the forehead. As he did not recognize Roland at his side, he took him for an enemy and hit him. Roland said: "Oliver, I am Roland who is very dear to you." Oliver realized his mistake and apologized: "Now I can hear your voice; (but before,) I did not see you and hit you; for this, I ask for your pardon". What a disaster when one takes friend for enemy! The battle was lost; Roland sounded his renowned horn for Charlemagne to come back and revenge the French army's defeat.

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