Archive for June, 2013

30
Jun
13

welcome to Saigon

welcome to Saigon

final phase begins today

29
Jun
13

My Lai

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The serious part of my day- visited what the Vietnamese call Son My (Sone mee) you call it My Lai.  It is one thing to teach about this supreme act of barbarity, and yes there was barbarity on both sides like the massacre in Hue.  Nonetheless, the horror, the brutality the rage and hate makes two things clear: 1) war crimes must be prosecuted- period- wherever and whenever they occur no matter who the perpetrators are; 2) We must pray and work toward a world defined by the pursuit of peace, not war; a world defined by brotherhood not enmity; a world of beloved community not hateful alienation. We need to make a world where we seek resolution to conflict by abiding by national and international law, not where we seek corporate profit by waging illegal, immoral, unethical wars.
The sad truth is we have said “never again” since the holocaust and yet 504 names are on this wall. Unarmed men, women and children who were murdered in a war crime in just over 4 hours
 

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Above a picture of one of the ruins in the hamlet. Several of the original hamlet sights have been preserved along with two of the bomb shelters families used to escape shelling by the US

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Above the irrigation ditch in which over 100 people were lined up and shot

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Above is Kieru, our tour guide at the site. Her mother as a 15 year old girl was one of only a handful of survivors. The rest of her family- mother, father and two sisters and a brother were all killed that day, March 16, 1968.
Below, I have chosen to only post one photograph taken by Ron Haeberle who happened to be with Charlie Company that day. Most of the film he took was confiscated by the Army, but two rolls of film were not found by the Army. When the tragedy was not publicized, he sold some of the pictures to Life magazine which have become iconic. Below is just one of the photos that were not seen by Life magazine, but all of which are at the museum.

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29
Jun
13

The group at Miss Vy’s cooking class

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Miss Vy’s is one of the very successful food franchises in Vietnam. Ms Trinh Diem Vy is Vietnam’s Gordon Ramsey!!

28
Jun
13

The Cham Civilization

it is difficult to see, but the red triangles on the coast are ancient Cham temples
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The Cham civilization is one of the oldest in Vietnam.  the Cham people thrived throughout the South as early as the 7th century CE.  The Cham were concentrated most heavily from the central highlands, south of the Hai Van pass and stretching along the coast to about 100 miles north of HCMC.  The Cham were migrants from as far away as Borneo and were primarily traders in sandalwood throughout south east Asia.  Today there are fewer than 200,000 Cham people, most live just north of the Mekong Delta.

The Cham Museum in Da Nang contains the largest collection of Cham artifacts in the world, the Hindu influence is clear and distinctive.  The Cham, eventually were engaged in several battles with the Viet to the North, and the Khmer to the west in Cambodia, and eventually, the Cham civilization was destroyed.

 

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One of the very interesting aspects of Cham culture, was that like the Maya, the main temple area was used only for religious service and the people remained primarily agricultural and the people lived outside the main temple areas.
In My Son, about 1 1/2 hour drive south of Hoi An, are the last remaining Cham temples. You will notice in one of the temples a shot from the inside, of a temple which is also interesting. I had a conversation leading up to the temple site about pyramids. In Egypt and in the America's the pyramid was the primary structure in temple construction, yet when we examine the temples from Cham, or the Hindi temples they appear very round and circular, but when you look from the inside, it is conical- pyramid shaped- and then the rounded outside is somehow constructed- I don't really know how, but it's cool.

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Below a Vietnamese government interpretation of a Cham ceremonial dance

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27
Jun
13

An American Story

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Meet Bob and Kathy (I think) the owners of Bread of Life Western Café in Da Nang. This awesome couple from Missouri has owned the café since 2004 and been in Vietnam since 1998. The two came as part of an NGO team looking to help those who were the disadvantaged in Vietnam- that means anyone with a deformity, or disability who in many ways are the outcasts of the society. The two later decided to open the café to give one significant population the ability to get job training and show that the disabled can run a successful enterprise. The café has waitresses with various disabilities and all of the cooks, and other staff are deaf. The café specializes in western food- as the owners say, “just like you decide to go exotic and have Vietnamese food back home, exotic food for Vietnamese people is a cheeseburger!!” and so the café serves all the good ole home cooking- pot roast, burgers and oh yes- home made cheesecake– Hello!!!
Their youngest son was born in Vietnam, went to Vietnamese schools, speaks English, Vietnamese, French, and Chinese. The son (forgot his name) spent his last two years of high school in the states, but not at a ‘normal’ American high school, the parents, not wanting their son, who is reserved and formal like any Vietnamese student, to be bullied, sent him to an international high school in Washington State- a school with almost 90% Asian students learning English to qualify for college. Now the son is entering his last year of college in Missouri with plans to spend his career in business in Vietnam. With a double major of economics and finance, and the language skills he has, he is confident that the world is truly his oyster. As we spoke, it was clear to the parents that raising this American son, in Vietnam was a very challenging, but ultimately rewarding experience that the both they and the son embrace.

27
Jun
13

The Dragon Bridge


One of the nine new bridges in Da Nang

27
Jun
13

At the DMZ

The group at the DMZ you are looking to the South