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Published: March 17th 2008
This is the famous photo of a Vietnamese girl towing B-52 wreckage that was taken in the 1970s. You can see the same star on the photo and on the wreckage at the Military Museum in Hanoi.
"Welcome to Vietnam!" No, I don't mean the old slogan of the Vietnam Tourism some years ago, but US President Bill Clinton's words in his speech at the Hanoi National University in November 2000. Mr. Clinton was the first US president to visit the unified country of Vietnam and the first in the capital city of Hanoi. In 1994, Mr. Clinton lifted the US trade embargo against Vietnam and a year later he declared normalization of diplomatic relations with Vietnam. His 3-day visit in November 2000 aimed to help heal both countries' wounds from the Vietnam war. During his visit in Vietnam, he was given an enthusiastic welcome everywhere.
Mr. Clinton's speech at the Hanoi National University on that day showed his great sincerity for the Vietnamese people. His message to the young generation in Vietnam focused on developing a new chapter in relationship between the US and Vietnam. I also watched the live broadcast of his speech in Hanoi on that day. When he left the University, we knew that he and his wife would pass by our office building, so we stood on the walk side and waited to wave to him. His car was passing by us
Mr. Clinton in Hanoi
President Clinton reaches out to shake hands with Vietnamese at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi.
very fast, just a second, I saw Mr. Clinton's smile and his wave to all the people standing along the street in front of my office building. I also liked the photos of Mr. Clinton and his family in Vietnam. Many people wanted to shake their hands with him and waved to his wife and daughter.
I was born after the wars, so I have no any memory about them, but my childhood was at the post-war time in Vietnam, when we were very poor. My parents and grandparents experienced both French and American wars, so they still remember how hard their lives were at that time. From what I've read and learned, I always feel that the war is the most horrible thing and a pain that is difficult to be healed. Therefore, I always appreciate the chance to live a peaceful life.
The photos in this blog were taken at the Military Museum, Khâm Thiên street, Hữu Tiệp and Trúc Bạch lakes in Hanoi. Following is some paragraphs in Mr. Clinton's speech at the Hanoi National University in November 2000:
"I am honored to be the first American president to see Hanoi, and to visit
Viện bảo tàng Quân đội (Military Museum) in Hanoi
I am sitting on the wall of Hanoi Flag Tower. In the background, you can see American B52 wreckage, tanks and aircraft used during the American war. They are being displayed at the Military Museum in Hanoi.
this University. But I do so conscious that the histories of our two nations are deeply intertwined in ways that are both a source of pain for generations that came before and a source of promise for generations yet to come.
Two centuries ago, during the early days of the United States, we reached across the seas for partners in trade and one of the first nations we encountered was Vietnam. In fact, one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, tried to obtain rice seed from Vietnam to grow on his farm in Virginia 200 years ago. By the time WWII arrived, the US had become a significant consumer of exports from Vietnam. In 1945, at the moment of your country’s birth, the words of Thomas Jefferson were chosen to be echoed in your own Declaration of Independence “All men are created equal. The creator has given us certain inviolable rights - the right to live, the right to be free, the right to achieve happiness.”
Of course, all of this common history, 200 years of it, has been obscured in the last few decades by the conflict we call the Vietnam War, and you call the American
War. You may know that in Washington DC on our National Mall, there is a stark black granite wall engraved with the name of every single American who died in Vietnam. At this solemn memorial, some American veterans also refer to the “other side of the wall,” the staggering sacrifice of the Vietnamese people on both sides of that conflict - more than 3 million brave soldiers and civilians.
This shared suffering has given our countries a relationship unlike any other. Because of the conflict, America is now home to 1 million Americans of Vietnamese ancestry. Because of the conflict, 3 million American veterans served in Vietnam, as did many journalists, embassy personnel, aid workers and other who are forever connected to your country.
Almost 20 years ago now, a group of American veterans took the first step to re-establish contacts between the US and Vietnam. They traveled back to Vietnam for the first time since the war, and as they walked through the streets of Hanoi, they were approached by Vietnamese citizens who had heard of their visit. “Are you American soldiers?”, they asked. Not sure what to expect, our veterans answered “Yes, we are.” And to
another immense relief, their host simply said “Welcome to Vietnam!”
More veterans followed.... When they came here, they were determined to honor those who fought without refighting the battles, to remember our history, but not to perpetuate it, to give young people like you in both our countries the chance to live in your tomorrows, not in our yesterday. As Ambassador Pete Peterson has said to eloquently “We cannot change the past, what we can change is the future.”
Almost 200 years ago, at the beginning of the relations between the US and Vietnam, our two nations made many attempts to negotiate a treaty of commerce, sort of like the trade agreement that we signed today. But 200 years ago, they all failed, and no treaty was concluded. Listen to what one historian said about what happened 200 years ago, and think how many times it could have been said in the two centuries since. He said “These efforts failed because two distant cultures were talking past each other, and the importance of each to the other was insufficient to overcome these barriers.”
Let the day when we talked past each other be gone for good. Let
War memorial on Khâm Thiên street in Hanoi
A statue of a mother carrying her dead child is placed on Khâm Thiên street in Hanoi as a memorial to all the victims during the American air raids at Christmas 1972.
us acknowledge importance to one another. Let us continue to help each other heal the wounds of war, not by forgetting the bravery shown and the tragedy suffered by all sides, but by embracing the spirit of reconciliation and the courage to build better tomorrows for our children.
May our children learn from us that good people, through respectful dialogue, can discover and rediscover their common humanity, and that a painful, painful past can be redeemed in a peaceful and prosperous future."
9 April 2009 - Some photos of Mr. John McCain on his visit to Hanoi taken on 7 April 2009. See this link: Mr. John McCain at Hoả Lò prison and Trúc Bạch lake
- He was captured at Trúc Bạch lake in Hanoi when his fighter jet, an A-4 Skyhawk was shot down on 26 October 1967. He then spent 5 years from 1967 to 1973 in Hoả Lò prison (or "Hanoi Hilton Hotel" as American pilots/prisoners called it).
Photos in the above link: Inside Hoả Lò prison, Mr. John McCain looks at the clothes he wore as a pilot and parachute, as well as a B&W photo taken on the day he was captured at Trúc Bạch lake. The photo on
the bottom is of his statue which was erected by the lake a long time ago.
15 April 2013 - Celebration of the 40th anniversary of the event when Mr. John McCain was returned to the US side as prisoner of war. See this link: Mr. John McCain
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