Some Things Never Change In Vietnam
THE FOLLOWING IS ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON PRESENT DAY VIETNAM FROM GUARDIAN EDITOR DAVE FRAZIER.
It had been 41 years since the infamous Tet Offensive and the Battle of Saigon in early 1968.
BUI VIN HOTEL, 1968 and 2009
I was curious how things looked along Bui Vin Street, my home for a year as a GI, back when I had hair and a slim waist. Anticipating the visit, I scanned some old photos and brought them along–shots of the local kids with a woman and some individual kid shots.
Sp4 FRAZIER 1968
The first guy I talked to on the street immediately recognized the players and quickly fetched the woman. She looked at the picture, realized that I was one of the GIs and offered only a hint of a smile. She showed the image to a very old lady who studied it closely, began jabbering in Vietnamese and soon everyone within earshot had a picture they were studying.
WOMAN WITH PHOTO FROM 1968
One guy of about 25 spoke some English and gave me a rundown on the subjects: One kid was dead, another 8 year old is now 50 and in prison for 7 years. Most had moved away, but the parents still lived in the crowded alleyway and hung out on the street.
MOM WITH PHOTO OF SON, NOW 50.
Where once there was a crowded street and alleys with poor people and American soldiers, there are now the same poor people and backpacker tourists seeking cheap rooms and “local food.” Despite 58,000 dead Americans and perhaps a million dead Vietnamese, not much has changed. Instead of
“free” poor people, they have a Communist government, but the war is truly a faded memory for some and ancient history for most because it happened long before they were born.