Hue and the War in the Central Highlands, part I

Hue, one of the significant set piece battles of the Vietnam war.  The NLF (National Liberation Front, pejoratively called VC, and units of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) launched a major offensive on Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, January …1968.  Hue was taken and the fight to take it back turned into a 41 counter offensive including the Army of South Vietnam, two battalions from the US Army and three battalions of Marines. The Citadel and the city were taken back by the US, but by then the psychological damage of Tet had been done- most believed the Vietnam War could not be won.  The entire city was destroyed, 668 American soldiers died, 8,000 NLF and NVA forces and over 5,000 civilians killed, primarily due to a massacre on the part of NLF forces to kill South Vietnamese government officials etc.
ImageThe Vietnamese flag flies over the outer wall of the Imperial City as it did on the day of the attack, January 30, 1968
A view from the main courtyard to the Western Gate where the US counter offensive to take the Imperial City beganImage
The battle scarred Eastern wall.   The scars of the French war in Hue in 1947 which destroyed the bulk  of the Imperial City, the American War in 1968 and the Wall still stands, and yet, I can come to this wall as an American citizen, honor the forces who died here on all sides and do it in a country in which the war, its ugly history and legacy is not forgotten, but serve only as a memory, not a resentment.  A place where the Vietnamese on the street know it is not people who wage war- it is governments.  And even with that understanding I cannot help but feel a sense of calm about the war, a sense of forgiveness on the part of the Vietnamese, who no longer view Americans as an enemy, but a friend. The Vietnamese, who in their long historical memory, the American War serves a s one the most recent conflicts Vietnam has found itself in, but certainly not the longest.

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