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The Bloody War!

Helicopter outside the museumThis was a visit suggested by Mr W – The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I wasn’t against going but could have taken or left it. I am glad I went, though it turned out to be the most emotional visit to a tourist attraction in our travels.

Having been to the Imperial War Museum in London a few times, I expected the same sort of thing. That’s because not being very interested in military history, I hadn’t given a second thought to our visit. If I had, I would have guessed the massive difference between Britain and Vietnam, especially given the latter’s history. It was in my lifetime that the US war was ended in Vietnam. A war – which I learned from this museum – which destroyed lives so much more severely than I had imagined.

Whereas the Imperial War Museum has tones of courage, bravery and victory; the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh city is an account of suffering, misery, death and destruction. On three floors are laid out facts, photographs, relics and propaganda in equal measures. The most shocking and emotive turned out to be the middle floor. One half of the floor has an exhibition of photographs of journalists from many countries who recorded the atrocities during the war. The other half of the floor is also photographs, but of the aftermath – landscape and people destroyed by the after-effects of Agent Orange – a chemical sprayed liberally by the US army across Vietnam and some of Laos to make sure that the enemy couldn’t hide in the foliage – Agent Orange was a deforestation chemical which exterminated the landscape of all fauna.

The result of Agent Orange for generations to come.Pic from causticsodapodcast.com

But it’s the unintended effect of Agent Orange which will define the aftermath of this bloody war. I say unintended because I am guessing the US Army didn’t intend to have the same effect on it’s own soldiers. The 80 million litres of the herbicide sprayed on in the 1970s has had very long lasting effects – in fact to this day and will continue for some generations. People exposed to Agent Orange died or were maimed. Children of this people who lived are born with gross birth defects, pictures of whom hang on the middle floor of the museum. I have added a picture here – though there are thousands, if you google and you will find most more disturbing than this.

Reading on the web, I found much negative feedback about the museum , mainly by Americans calling it propaganda and one-sided. That as may be and I am sure the same is the case at every War Museum in the world, however photographs don’t lie. And it’s the photographs at this museum which are a horrific document of the tragedy which shock, disturb and bring burning tears to your eyes.

  1. May 11, 2011 at 11:39

    It was a very sobering experience and yet here 30/40 years later, both allied and enemy soldiers are suffering from the effects of DU – not that anyone will admit such a thing exists.

  2. May 11, 2011 at 17:14

    Great blog entry Shelley.

  3. May 14, 2011 at 07:20

    It´s unbelievable what happened in that war. I agree with lovely Richard here, great blog entry. Love you, C

  4. May 14, 2011 at 12:02

    Thanks guys! Missing all of you, so far away, here in Asia. xxx

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