Sunday, September 5, 2010

DMZ tour, Hué

Mr Do Dien, 64, worked as a translator for the highly decorated US General William Westmoreland during the 1960s. He signed up to work for the Army of the Republic of Vietnam when he was 24. After the war he was dispatched to a re-education camp for six years where he worked in the fields from 5am until 6pm and took two and a half hours of political classes every night. He mainly survived on potato and manioc. The latter, he said, “was only nice every few days.”
At the
Con Thien Fire Base, Mr Dien explained that the area had been defoliated by the US military in 1966 and after 15 days not a living tree survived. It took 12 years for trees to grow again, he explained on his Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) tour, north of Hué.
Today, coffee, rubber and pepper tree plantations can be seen.
At Truong Son Cemetery, a national memorial to the fallen during the American War (as it is called in Vietnam), 10,775 graves marked by the words Liet Si (martyr) are divided up into sections such as ‘unknown soldiers’ and ‘Ho Chi Minh City’ section. Sometimes, Mr Dien explains, parents who cannot bear to pray at an unmarked grave, adopt one of the many unmarked tombs and place the name of their son it.
(Mr Dien’s DMZ Tours

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