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War remnants and reminders


I had to run from the museum, crying and feeling a longing tug of home like I'd not felt in a few weeks. I was absolutely sick to my core. The War Remnants Museum was filled with hate toward my beloved country, and I was overwrought with gut-wrenching sickness reading all the posters, seeing the "worldwide" support for the North, from Cuba's dictator to every other historical figure that has been known to oppress their people. Intellectually I understand the need to promote the communist viewpoint and to celebrate their reunification. I understand their drive to not have a divided country. But, emotionally, the language used to describe the U.S. was horrific, and it has even softened from original text. We were told, when the museum was built in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War as the North was victorious and three years after the U.S. left the country, the language used to describe the U.S. involvement was even more extreme. I can't imagine. I've read enough to understand the purpose the U.S. was here; I know how the South feared the spread of communism and wanted guidance and support, and I get how the U.S. involvement was an advisory and training one, until, at one point, it wasn't. I understand how families were destroyed, villages devastated, bombs dropped, land and crops wiped out. We say the traps in the ground where U.S. soldiers fell into holes and were shot and died. Some of my travel companions climbed in for photo opportunities, and I felt even more sick. This is not an appropriate photo opportunity; young men (regardless of how you feel about the soldiers), died in those holes. People died right there. It is not a photo opportunity. It is a grave, in some regard, and we need to have reverence for those who died. My heart breaks for all of this. I'm saddened by the desire for men to fight over a philosophy. I do believe that people have the right to choose their own path, to pursue their dreams and not the dreams of others, to start a business or to work for an employer, to live off the grid or to live off the land. My viewpoint is also distinctly capitalist in the sense that a country does not own industry and business, but industry and business is privately held. I do believe, if an artist or an inventor develops a product, they should have the right to own it and market it and benefit from their works. And if they grow to a large successful company, they have earned that. I don't believe that a country or a government should own a person's individual ideas, mind or inventions. Vietnam, as a communist country, has slacked their guidelines on private ownership in order remain competitive as a marketplace. But, the country ranks as one of the most corrupt in the world. When power is not dispersed among the people, when the people don't get to own their ideas, inventions and profit from their own productivity, when the power goes to the hands of the few who run a government, it can easily be corrupted. I am merely an 18-year-old girl, and I do not profess to have all the answers. I am no government expert nor am I fluent in the ways of big business. But, this is I know. If I were to create a tee-shirt company designed to benefit others, and if a government mandated that all my hard work would benefit them and they would determine what causes or people received any funding from my company, I would be demoralized and demotivated. The people that do the work, that conjure the ideas, that are resourceful and productive, whether they are farmers or tinkerers or artists or glass blowers or builders, they should benefit by their labor and their efforts. and, they should have the right to determine who else benefits by their profits. And, as we continue our journey, we will move into Cambodia soon, and at some point will see the killing fields from the Khmer Rouge. These are things hard to fathom for anyone, the crushing death to an entire people, killing 25% of your own people in 4 years. We need to see these things, and touch them so we don't do this again to one another. All of this comes down to a philosophy and ideology about the role a government plays in our futures, how much power we give them to rule our lives. I would like a bigger role in my own. I am happy to fund my government to protect, defend, provide civic services like water, fire protection, law enforcement, tax collection and so on, but when it comes to protecting my ideas and benefiting from those ideas, I'd like to make those decisions myself.

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