Being the Bad Guy at the War Remnants Museum

Vietnam! Whenever I am about to visit a new country I make a mental inventory of the things that I associate with that place. When I think of Vietnam I think of rice paddies, spring rolls and war.

War is probably the biggest thing that most of the western world associates with Vietnam. Although I was born a decade after the end of the Vietnam War, it’s cultural legacy is still very clear to me. Miss Saigon, Apocalypse Now, Tim O’Brien and more made the entire situation much more vivid than any history book. My parents can’t get over the fact that we now live in a world where their daughter can visit Vietnam as a tourist. “When I was your age,” says my Dad, “we were all trying NOT to go to Vietnam.”

So even with all the things I think I know about the Vietnam War, I realized that the Vietnamese probably have a very different outlook and attitude on it. For starters I knew that they called it the “American War,” which sounds odd but makes a lot of sense. I wanted to know what the Vietnamese attitude was about this terrible time that entangled both of our countries, so one of our first stops in Ho Chi Minh City was the War Remnants Museum.

It was… an awkward visit, to say the least.

The museum, which costs something like 75 cents, is a gray warehouse of a building, with a courtyard filled with re-appropriated American tanks, helicopters and fighter planes. Inside I walked up to the first exhibit to find this plastered on the wall:

Crucial words from the Declaration of Independence, thoughtfully positioned next to a picture of an American Soldier executing a Viet Cong soldier. Subtly. And a pretty good indicator of what was to come. Image after gory image of dead Vietnamese, dismembered body parts and soldiers terrorizing civilians.

It went on: victims of agent orange, dead babies in jars, simulation tiger cages and more. It was weird. And mortifying. And also kind of infuriating. I have absolutely no doubt that the United States did some really terrible things. It was a terrible and ill-advised war. But this place was just too much. What about all the horrible things that the Viet Cong did? Not even mentioned among the debris. I see pictures of locked up Viet Cong, but where is the exhibit on the infamous Hanoi Hilton? War is hell no doubt but it’s a two sided inferno.

“Even women and babies are targets of US American division mopping up operations.”

Now, the museum is run by the government, so of course it’s sole purpose is to booster the party line. In Vietnam, like everywhere else, history is written by the victors. What I was looking at wasn’t the actual beliefs of the majority of the people in Vietnam- it was pure propaganda. Once I grasped this the entire museum experience became less emotional and more academic.

In my travels I’ve had the opportunity to visit a few different places that have been negatively effects by US actions I reflected on the bombed out buildings of Belgrade and the atomic bomb site in Hiroshima. The latter is probably more comparable to here: severe destruction and civilian casualties during wartime. The Peace Park in Hiroshima is almost the polar opposite of this museum though: it’s a monument to what was lost, a (fair) explanation of what happened and a plea to make sure it never happens again. I think that ultimatly had far more impact on me then the smear-fest in Saigon.

So what’s the difference? Well, the Japanese have had much longer to recover from their wounds. And the Japanese lost the war. America did some really horrible things in both countries, but Japan at least recognizes that we weren’t operating in a void. To do that requires a level of self-criticism that the Vietnamese government is clearly not comfortable with.

The good news is, the War Museum is more of a novelty than anything else. It does not represent the views of most people in Vietnam. Things might change when I go up North, but here in the south people are friendly and open. Based on the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet so far, their opinions on Americans range from indifferent to ecstatic. As one guy told me “That was a long time ago, a lot of bad things happened, but now we must move on.”

Article by

Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! She is the co-founder and editor of Why Wait To See the World. Learn more about her here.
  1. Did you go to the Cu Chi Tunnels? They are also very anti-American. Even as a British citizen I found it a bit nauseating at how the Americans were portrayed. Like you said, war is definitely two-sided. I found the War Remnants Museum fascinating but saddening at the same time.

    • I did- and I wanted to include them in this post but didn’t get around to it. Loved the part in the video about the soldiers getting “American Killer” awards.

  2. I had heard enough about this museum that I knew what I was in for when I arrived. One-sided, for sure, but still incredibly impactful.

    More moving to me, though, were some opportunities I had to speak with former Vietnamese soldiers who fought for the South. Their perspectives were not only different, they still DID hold a lot of resentment, but toward their own nation, their government and the soldiers they fought from the North.

    It was a third viewpoint I was largely ignorant of. I was fortunate to find a couple of men who so openly spoke of their experiences, since they really can’t do so around their fellow countrymen.

    • Yeah, even from just casual conversation I can tell that there is a lot still going on between the government and it’s people, particularly in the South. That may be part of why they seem so welcoming to Americans.

  3. I went to the War Remnants Museum as a 21 year old version of myself. I remember thinking something was not quite right. From the minute I opened your blog post, I was wondering whether you had been the the Peace Park in Hiroshima. I think they have done such an excellent job of presenting a more even keel, given the nature of the destruction. I appreciate your insights, it was food for thought this morning!

    • Yeah, there seems to be a pretty obvious connection between the two in my head, different perspectives for sure.

      • The Peace Park in Hiroshima is amazing because it is so unbiased. Almost weirdly unbiased, actually, because I expected people to feel upset about the fact that we demolished two huge cities . . . but they aren’t. Joanna also posted about this spot and I remembered thinking how interesting it is to view “our wars” from the other standpoint.

        • Yeah, I think I’m really learning a lot, both about US foreign policy, and about the psychologies of various asian countries.

  4. I completely agree with you. I think all the onesidedness did was make me feel defensive. Obviously the U.S. did some very horrible things during the war, but by only presenting the American atrocities, the museum felt “false” and only succeeded in undermining itself. The horrific nature wouldn’t have been erased had the museum presented a more balanced perspective, but instead would have been made more real. But as you said, it’s all propaganda.

    • I really agree with you here. I think most informed people will pick up on the bias and not take the place as seriously as they would if it was a fairer perspective. It would have been much more impactful.

  5. While obviously the museum is pretty biased I think it is worth visiting just to get the different perspective. It was the number one attraction in Ho Chi Minh when I went there two and a half years ago, I’m not sure if it still is. The only place I can compare it to emotionally would be the Holocaust Museum (in D.C.), the Peace Park in Hiroshima just didn’t have the same affect on me. I actually even wrote a paper in college about the rhetoric of the War Remnants Museum after visiting it.

    • I guess different things work on different people- although i did get pretty emotional at the Agent Orange exhibit. The Holocaust Museum is another great example.

  6. I think the museum was an important one. Understanding the perspective of the creators is important, and it is just one opinion, but that doesn’t make it wrong or right. I think it’s important for people to visit the War Remnants Museum because it’s not a perspective you can find in the United States. We might share a different part of the story, but not the one told at the museum in Ho Chi Minh City.

    In case you’re interested, here were the thoughts I had when I visited:

  7. There’s plenty of propaganda to go all around. To get a better sense of history, you need to listen to the narratives of various parties involved and the truth will lie somewhere in a synthesis of these. In the case of Vietnam, there are the northern Vietnamese, the southern Vietnamese, the aristocracy, the Viet Minh/Cong, the French, the Japanese, the Hmong, and the Americans.

    Vietnam experienced a war of national liberation within a world war that led to a civil war driven by a class revolution. Vietnam declared independence in on September 2, 1945, but it was ignored by Britain, France, and the United States who conspired to return the country to French colonial rule.

    The important difference between Japan and Vietnam is that, unlike the Japanese, the Vietnamese did not attack the US. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, used to provide a rationale for escalating the war, was a false flag operation. And to what end? More bombs were dropped on Indochina than all of Europe during the entire Second World War. All that death and destruction did not prevent what would have happened post-1945 if Vietnamese independence was recognized back then.

    Considering what the Vietnamese endured (and still endure today from the massive Agent Orange poisoning), I think they are an incredibly forgiving people.

    • These are all very good points and I certainly would not say that the US does a much better job of explaining the conflict. I learned barely anything about the Vietnam war in school, and mostly cobbled my impression from tv and movies. Maybe the whole thing is still too fresh for anyone to have a really unbiased take on things.

      And I would agree, the Vietnamese have been some of the most shockingly friendly and welcoming people I’ve ever met.

      • Agreed with the friendly and welcoming bit… we hired an independent guide to take us around and while I was asking all about the country and his life, he wanted to discuss Steve Jobs and business with me. Not only warm and friendly, but they have a strong capitalist leaning to openness.

  8. Hi Steph,

    Vietnam was the first country I ever traveled to (I’m from Australia). Now, I agree that the museums etc. are very one sided. However, I also understand the reasons behind this. After all, the U.S., and its allies unfortunately, had no business in Vietnam. More infuriating to me was the fact that so many great places were destroyed, both by shooting between Vietcong and the enemy and by American planes bombing everything. A great example is the My Son ruins.

    I know my comment sounds very anti-american, but I just want to make it clear that I don’t blame the American people or the Vietnamese people, I blame the governments on both sides of the conflict.

    • Yeah, I certainly can’t argue that the US government behaved at all honorably during the conflict. I just think it does everyone a disservice to purposely ignore a large chunk of history because it makes your government look bad.

      That goes for any country.

  9. hi! i’m travelling to vietnam this year too. can you recommend a cheap place to stay?

    • I can’t remember the name of the hotel I stayed in in HCMC, but I found it on hostelworld. Everywhere else I’ve stayed here I’ve found just by rolling up and looking around. It’s been very easy to find cheap accomodation.

  10. That sounds really difficult to see, but I agree with you, once you get past the sickness of the images and the one-sideness of everything, it had to be educational.

    • I am getting a much fuller perspective on the Vietnam War just by being here. Learning a lot.

  11. Interesting viewpoints! Have you been to the War Memorial in Hawaii for Pearl Harbor? We’ve set up the same kind of thing, very anti-Japanese. In fact, there are two different tours to keep the Asian/Tourist population and American population separate because the Americans spend so much time heckling the Japanese tourists. So I guess we ALL have our own propaganda.

    • I haven’t been there, but that’s really interesting. I think propaganda definitely works both ways- that’s kind of sad though.

  12. Hi, as a Vietnamese, reading your blog makes me feel sad also. War in Vietnam is something in the past, a very long time ago. So now we just want to say Hi and make friends with people on over the world. So, just spend your time here, in this friendly country and you can easily associate Vietnam to another things, such as: smile, beef noodle, coffee and friendly people 🙂

    Btw, today is the TET holidays in VN, ( Lunar new year) it would be a great chance if you can join some traditional events here.
    In TET, we usually visit each others, singing, drinking and playing game.

    • Thanks for the comment! It’s really great to get some input from someone who is actually Vietnamese. I just wanted to add that so far I LOVE Vietnam. The people are some of the most friendly I’ve met anywhere and the food is amazing.

        • great to hear that you are enjoying Vietnam so far 🙂 Just explore the Vietnam hidden charm.
          Some tips
          1. try street food. it’s much more amazing and very cheap.
          2. using motobike and have a city tour. going to district 2, district 5… u will find a different HCM city.
          3. try a vietnamese daily meal. it will surprise u for sure.

  13. Steph,

    Thanks for the tour through the museum. It has to be hard to see those things and know that it’s not the 100% side of the story, but you know … I guess to each their own propaganda!

  14. Given the socio-political effect the Vietnam War had on Americans (which is interesting to compare with Iraq), it’s probably difficult for many not associate the country with the war, just like one associates Cambodia with the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge. Nevertheless, I think it is important not to let that frame your experience with the people. It reminds me of a documentary I came across, called ‘Vietnam: The Country, Not the War’, which I think nicely sums it up.

    Too often, people’s view of a country is based on their feelings concerning the actions of its government based on biased news. We need to remember that so many people do not have a government of their choosing or even the ability to make that choice. So despite what one may feel about a particular government, I recommend people still visit a country if they are interested to. Go with an open mind and let your experience with the locals shape your views of a place. You may be surprised by what you find.

    • I definitely agree. I think it’s impossible to be here and think about war all the time though- its such a busy and exciting place full of awesome people and food. Just like everywhere it’s more than the actions of it’s government.

  15. You can actually visit the Hanoi Hilton in Hanoi: they do have it open as a site.

    Now, I can see how the War Remnants Museum must be upsetting as an American, and there is, of course, some propaganda language within it.

    Unfortunately, though, American forces did do all the things that they are accused of — from Agent Orange through to My Lai — on soil that was never their own, in defense of a dictator who refused the right to free elections.

    I think you’d need to look a long way in Vietnam before you find any particular enthusiasm for US intervention in a fairly ancient conflict….

    • I do want to visit the Hanoi Hilton when I get up there. Should be interesting.

      I wasn’t expecting any sort of “yay USA” sentiments. I don’t think you’ll find much support for the Vietnam War anywhere- even IN the US. But to say “The USA did mean things to us because they are bad people,” is a pretty gross oversimplification that doesn’t really do anyone any favors.

      • I’m not sure that is what’s said in the museum, to be honest.

        There’s some anti-capitalist commentary, which is typical of Vietnamese communism, and something you’ll hear also if you take the Reunification Express. But I don’t think there’s anything that says that Americans per se are bad, or did mean things.

        You will read things like capitalists supporting colonialists. That refers to America’s initial involvement in Vietnam (after WWII, when the Allies supported the Viet Minh, and Ho Chi Minh, to help remove the Japanese from Vietnam). They came in to help the French maintain their colonial rule over Vietnam.

        Then the US became involved to *prevent* free elections and reunification, which was presented at home as a war against Communist dictatorship (although they had backed and supported Ho Chi Minh themselves during WWII, much as the CIA trained Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan during the 1980s).

        Now, I’d say that as an American in Vietnam you get a much better reception than as, say, a German in Greece or France when I used to travel there as a child. Which means that there’s much less personal feeling about what was done to the country and the people by folk who lived through decades of war than there is by folk who lived through the Second World War.

        But you will not find a clear explanation of what the US Army was doing in Vietnam anywhere, really.

        That’s because, put at its very simplest, the US should not have been in Vietnam. The Vietnamese did nothing to America, as other commenters have pointed out. The French had no right to maintain, or re-establish their rule, over Vietnam.

        I think the museum may skim over the detailed reasons for US involvement — precisely because they are complicated — but I really don’t think it presents American individuals, per se, as evil or mean.

        • As I understand
          If only the French gave back Vietnam to the Veitnamese after ww2 the war could have been avoided all the alies of ww2 gave up there colones because their own country was bankrupt after the war the French thought they could make money out of Vietnamese to help there own country they where o so wrong

  16. Alexander says:

    You are right, it was biased. But that could also be said of much of the reporting from the west, esp. America. All the atrocities such as agent orange or whatever were much under reported, so the museum is only a counter balance to that. And then people get celebrated as ‘war heros’ (e.g. John McCain). I am sure many/most of the soldiers did not do these horrendous crimes, but you can’t just assume everyone was a hero.

    And upstairs there was a photography exhibit, and I would say it is less bias, as it showed lots of pictures of injured Americans.

    I just feel that a lot of people in the west are oblivious to what really happened, so you can’t blame them for telling their side of the story. And bias or not, when you see people born seriously deformed three or four generations later, you know that something went wrong.

    • It’s a tough line to walk. I think that everyone is assuming that I think the Vietnam war was a good war or that hte US is blameless. I don’t. A lot of really horrible stuff happened- but to say it was all the US’s fault and ignore the role the Viet Con played is not right. Instead of finger pointing it would be nice if *everyone* involved could work on figuring out what the hell happened and how to make it NOT happen again.

  17. Fascinating. My impression is that the museum actually reflects a perspective that was widely accepted and got A LOT of attention, back in the US at the time. This was the first war that was broadcast on TV – the first war where people sitting safely at home actually saw the horror broadcast into their living room every night. Those broadcasts included the standard propaganda, but also included a lot of the same images displayed in the museum. The resulting sense of outrage and self-revulsion, reflected in the US Anti-War movement clashed with the more “patriotic” mainstream view of those who remembered WWII, saw America as “the good guys,” and could not imagine that our leaders could be as wrong as they later proved to be. America came astonishingly close to a revolution over this schism and the scars are still there 40-50 years later – resentments still persist. That is the real reason John Kerry did not become President. But the years go by, it seems that that those resentments are hidden or sugar coated. It is interesting that the War was not discussed much in school — I think we are still struggling to deal with it as a nation. In a strange way, going to this museum and seeing this perspective might actually help people to better understand our own country – and what was really going on during the formative years of our current leaders.

    • Thanks Dad! I really appreciate this comment because it highlights a whole other way of framing what I saw and the larger context of what happened.

    • Tram Ngo says:

      Both the anti-war and pro-war movements in the ’60s could never reconcile because they can never admit the points both movements have to make.

      They can only select and pick half-truths they can agree with.

      The anti-war movement rightfully claimed that the U.S. in its search and destroy mission killed a lot of North and South Vietnamese civilians.

      The pro-war movement rightfully claimed that the anti-war movement slowed down the momentum of the war (the U.S. Congress’ stopped funding South Vietnam in 1975, contributing to their loss; while Russia still funded North Vietnam).

      The latter claim is substantiated by former Communist generals like Tin Bui, who said Hanoi used the anti-war movement to their advantage.

      It’s sad how ideology can blind both sides to the truth.

  18. We visited the War Remnants Museum last year and at first we were really surprised at the perspective and the images shown. After spending two months in Southeast Asia and seeing how the war affected other countries like Cambodia and Laos, I have learned how we don’t really get the full picture in our high school American History classes here in the US.

    One thing to remember, Japan was a willing participant in World War II. Vietnam was just a pawn in the global advance/fight against Communism. Vietnam didn’t attack the US like Japan did. This is where the Vietnamese perspective comes from and this is something we need to be reminded of this. This is with the knowledge that, today, the whole of Vietnam is communist again.

    Thanks for a great blog!!

    • Yeah, visiting SE Asia has been much more enlightening than any history class I ever took!

  19. Wow, how interesting. It’s too bad that the museum was so one-sided, but yet I suppose it still gives a taste of the animosity the Vietnamese government still holds toward the US. And, we DID do some horrible things over there during the war.

    But I think this sentence really says it all: “War is hell no doubt but it’s a two sided inferno.” Great point.

    And thanks for writing about this!

  20. Very interesting. I think many people forget that just because artifacts and information are in a “Museum” doesn’t necessarily mean that everything represented there is 100% true. There is usually more than one side to a story. Thanks so much for sharing.

  21. Very interesting post & the follow up comments really brought everything to another level! First time visiting your site but will be back often! So cool that your Dad weighed in…. & hit a comment homerun!

  22. Lynda Kaplan says:

    I’m interested in the photo you have on your site of the Viet Nam Declaration of Independence for an exhibit. could you contact me about that image?

    thank you. Lynda

  23. Great post. I visited that museum last year and felt the same way. The anti-American propaganda was evident, but definitely an eye-opener for me. I didn’t know much about the war from the Vietnamese perspective.

    I wasn’t really upset with what I saw there until the very end of the tour. They had a US sailor’s uniform on display in the last room with all the anti-war posters from around the world. If you looked carefully at the uniform, you could see a giant blood stain around the entire torso area. It was sickening and infuriating because it reminded me that someone at some point stripped this dead sailor of his uniform, doing God-knows-what with the corpse. Obviously, the US soldiers did some pretty terrible things to Vietnamese citizens, but to put on full display the uniform of a captured person is really disturbing. Especially if that display is in a place like a museum, where you’re trying to be informative.

  24. Tony Titwo says:

    I like all the other correspondents above also visited this museum. But unlike most of you, I can remember the absolute garbage propaganda that was put out by the US and its allies during this war. And what I was told then and what I have discovered since from reading about and visiting Vietnam makes me feel ill. Ill because I was lied to by our government of the day in Australia. So please, all you people accusing the Vietnamese of propaganda, do your homework and you will find it is closer to the truth than what you got taught. It may also be helpful if you visit the requiem floor in the museum and read what non US or Vietnamese journalists wrote during this conflict. This war may never have been had the US helped Ho Chi Minh when he requested help from them. Finally, I am sure that all of you know what Vietnam, Angola, Iraq etc have in common. They all have oil in abundance.

    • I have no doubt the US was absolutely spewing propoganda as well. The whole war was just a big ugly tragedy.

  25. MinhNguyen says:

    Ya I’m looking around internet for my writing and have a chance to see this blog
    I very appreciate Theodora comment
    I have visited this museum last sunday and as architecture student I think you miss out something, I remember there ‘s small play ground for children at the top floor- don’t you realize this space has own meaning- I think it tell you about peace by seeing children play, children is for a better future, right?
    and by the way I don’t think Vietnamese can take pictures about how they killed people and smile then hang these pics on a wall like a hunter with his animals…
    but this war has a good point^^ this war has pointed out that American is not invincible… they can’t win any war.
    Thank for your thinking.

    • It was a little unsettling (as an American) but well worth the visit to see the other / differing opinion. There’s a really good restaurant right across the street, can’t remember the name of it, yellow awning for anyone interested.

  26. War crimes not yet answered for. This alone justifies the importance of the museum. And that it can all happen again in the Middle East tells me the US and it’s allies have a lot to learn and think about. Dad, it’s a real shame that revolution didn’t take place.

  27. War crimes not yet answered for. This alone justifies the importance of the museum. And that it can all happen again in the Middle East tells me the US and it’s allies have a lot to think about. Dad, it’s a real shame that revolution didn’t take place.

  28. Rosco Brennan says:

    I ask for your assistance.
    I was at the museum many years ago. There was a quote by a French soldier to Robert Capa the photographer who had just arrived under one of capa’s photos.
    Something like ” how unfortunate our involvement” or such. Anyone remember?

  29. Curious if they showed anything about: “Operation Speedy Express” the 1969 Mekong Delta Mega My Lai campaign where tens of thousands of civilians were liquidated.

  30. Another Visitor says:

    Yes, it is one-sided. But still, can anybody explain what American soldiers were doing there?

  31. It must be upsetting for an American to see her country’s dirty laundry fully on display however the Vietnamese have every right to do exactly that.
    I’m sure the VietCong did awful things but only in retaliation.
    America has very controversial foreign policy. It’s foreign policy is in a nutshell – any country that doesn’t do what we want will be attacked at any cost.
    America knows how big and powerful it is, and how difficult it would be for almost any country in the world to defend themselves.
    As others have stated history lessons in the US paint a distorted (at best) at worst untruthful picture of what they did and for what erroneous reasons.

    America should not have attacked Vietnam. The damage caused in Laos with land mines is terrible. Using another defenceless country in that way is disgraceful.

    I personally think America had a LOT to answer for and this museum doesn’t even touch the surface.

    Effects of this terrible war are still bring felt. Imagine if you were an injured native who went to the museum and read about the American ‘side’ of the story. How would this feel? Awful? The museum is in part a tribute to the people of this country who were affected.
    It is not the job of Vietnam to express sorrow to the country who attacked it.

    • Tram Ngo says:

      The U.S. did not attack Vietnam. The North attacked the South, and the U.S. intervened.

      The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese government was on the offensive. And the South Vietnamese government and the U.S. was on the defensive.

      My parents lived through this war. I’m always saddened that they’re always being used by Americans like you as a political talking point.

  32. Wayne Li says:

    When going to this museum you do not realize your own bias. Americans constantly paint themselves as the good guys and paint the enemies as the bad guys. We do this simply by focusing history on when the enemy does bad things and focusing less when we do bad things. An example is the Kent State Tragedy. It was during the Cold War when American troopers shot and killed many college students who were protesting. This is an American version of Tienanmen Square. Yet the Tienanmen Square Massacre is grossly exaggerated and barely anyone hears about the Kent State Tragedy.
    Of course such bias is only natural in any country. And so it is only natural in Vietnam as is in America. So why do you blame the anti-American aspects of this museum on government propaganda when normal American citizens like you harbor the same bias?

    • Yeah, Americans weren’t exactly the good guys in the Vietnam War were they? Especially when they supported the Imperialistic French against the Vietnam and tried to justify it by saying the Vietnamese don’t know what’s best for themselves and that being enslaved by Imperialism was waaaaaaaaaaaaay better then having a Communist government, which they’d be wrong if you look at Vietnam nowadays. It’s not the best but it’s not terrible.

      • Tram Ngo says:

        There were no good guys or bad guys during the Vietnam War. I don’t know why many Americans want a simple answer.

        The U.S. supported the French against Ho Chi Minh because of HCM’s Communist credentials. Even though I don’t think HCM was a radical Communist, he was a Communist, and Viet Minh – the organization he founded – was ridden with radicals who killed off landowners.

        My parents left Vietnam in 1984 because of Communism. One of the main reasons why Hanoi converted to capitalism was because they didn’t want to see another generation of Vietnamese people fleeing in droves.

        I wish you would read up more on Vietnam before you make unsupported statements on Vietnam.

        I always feel like the Vietnamese people are shredded of all dignity whenever Americans speak of a war they know nothing of.

    • I do know about Kent State. And I do realize that as Americans we have certain preconceptions about the Vietnam war, which is why it’s important to learn via travel. Amercan’s shouldn’t have been in Vietnam, and we did awful things. That is why it’s fascinating to visit a museum like this (and yes, I did know what I was getting into) and to see an entirely different perspective coming from a different side of history.

  33. Tram Ngo says:

    I’ve never been to the War Remnants Museum, but I’m guessing there’s no presence of South Vietnam, Hanoi’s opposing enemy, there.

    As an American-born citizen, I understand the death and destruction caused by the U.S. I’ve seen the pictures, read the accounts, etc.

    But as a Vietnamese-American, I understand that Hanoi was the aggressor – invading the South – and willing to trade in its people as collateral in order to win the war.

    It’s really rich for Hanoi to be using Vietnamese people to legitimize what they did during the war.

  34. cameron says:

    I hope one Steph you and your merry band of sympathisers make your way to Loas or Cambodia to get a more realistic opinion of America attrocities during the ‘American War’ – the bottom line was 3,000,000 Vietnamese dead 2,000,000 civilians. Imagine that, 2,000,000 cilvilians murdered from an outside aggressor, most likely from the air but even worse, face to face. 2,000,000 civilians! Can;t imagine that, then imagine 2000 separate 9/11 over 25 years. That you felt compelled to write on the subject and chose that stance of all things is an embarrassment to your family and fellow citizens. Grow up

  35. Chee Hoe, Foo says:

    It is one sided but it’s an important education to Americans about their war crimes. Lest they think they are always the good guys. As a Malaysian I’m glad I finally have the other side of the story, after being only exposed to US friendly media all this while.

  36. I went to Saigon in 2012. I had an interesting time. Met a bunch of college students who wanted to talk with me. Said they loved the United States , and wanted more change in Vietnam. They asked me if I was going to travel up north. I said I did not plan to on this trip. I asked them about there experiences in Hanoi, all of them said they had never been and didn’t want to go because they said it’s a ” dark” place.
    I decided to go to the museum and told myself to bite my tongue while I was there. I’m glad I did , it was nothing I did not expect. I was with a bunch of Europeans roaming around the museum, one woman made a remark at how terrible one of the photos was and what the Americans where doing in it, then her husband interjected and said that the Vietnamese did atrocious acts as well. They both agreed. I was happy I heard that from them. I found the people of Vietnam very nice and welcoming. Wether the war was right or wrong one thing I can say is the average person in Vietnam did not deserve what happened to them, I plan to go back and spend some more time there and see more of the country.

  37. Peter Rech says:

    Your post is good….. I have heard that the museum is something to see e.g. a lot of civilian photos and to a large degree, a “one sided” look back.

    For me, it’s about forgiveness. It was 50 years ago when I left RVN as a 21 year old. I left there on October 21, 1968 and was happy to get out unharmed…Many friends did not and that is a sad thing.

    2BN/12th Infantry Reg, 25th Infantry Division, 11 Bravo. I know what that war was like because I was in the thick of it for 11 mos and 1 week…..

    • Dinh Van Nguyen says:

      Hi Peter,

      One-sided story is true.
      But what should we put into the other side?
      That there was a country far away from the other side of hemisphere, sent people over to protect their country?
      I seriously doubt that.
      We moved on as a nation, no longer look back at the past. i don’t even have that “hate” to you or any other US citizen. But we will never forget the wound that is still hunting us. Please google Agent Orange!

  38. MaoAndHCM says:

    When the commie-sympathisers said such-and-such many civilians were killed BY US-SOLDIER, did they both: (1) actually count the deaths, or was it really some guy sitting at his desk making-up a number ? (2) actually know which one was killed by Viet-Cong’s mortars, which one was killed by US bombs ? “US have more weapons, therefore, civilian’s death must be due to US ” ! First, on which South-Vietnam cities did US drop bombs ? None. Hanoi/Haiphong IN-North-Vietnam are a different topic (before Xmas-1972: mostly air-port, sea-port. On Xmas-1972: To force Hanoi to accept the Peace Paris-pact). So you’re too brainwashed to actually believe that the Commies’s force fought with their bare-hands and they don’t have AK47, chinese mortars and grenade-launchers, and later, modern Soviet’s tanks ? Now, do you know that 2 millions of North-Vietnamese people were killed between 1952-1957 during the Land-Reform (Euphemism for entire Class cleansing: Kill/emprison all who has a farm, a position) by the Vietnamese Communist’s ? So the Commies were in war AGAINST their OWN civilians LONG-BEFORE the combat US soldiers debarked on South-Vietnam.

  39. Dinh Van Nguyen says:

    Hi, greeting from Vietnam.

    I will try to make it short.
    1. I do agree. that the museum is portrayed one-sided story (but maybe fact)
    2. I do agree that it is long time ago thing, Now we are moving on. north to south, no problem with the US or any other country.

    But you lost me when you compare my country to Japan. one and only simple BOLD REASON is:
    We have never ever wanted that war to happen!
    No single one of us.
    That was the US who came, who killed and who died.
    It is fully your country decision at the time.

    Please, explain me, even the Viet-Cong did do smth bad, why did it happen in the first place?
    The Japanese is different, they began the war!

    So when the terrorist came to your country and killed people, did your government tortured them? you may find the answer to justify my belief.

  40. Aaron says:

    If two huge guys break into a little guy’s house and attack him with sticks and knives, and the little guy gets a few punches in as he’s being badly beaten, is the blame to be shared equally? It was possibly the most one sided and unjust war of the century (and it was a bad century!). At least the Nazis took on an opponent equal to themselves. Approximately 2m Vietnamese died (mostly civilian peasants) compared to approx 40-50,000 US soldiers. The Vietnamese were perfectly within their rights to defend their homeland and families. I think the declaration of independence is a nice touch. A country that prides itself on values of freedom and democracy bombing another country to stop them from having the same. The Vietnamese wanted an election before the civil war broke out, but were denied this right by the USA as HCM would have won by a landslide. I’d love to see what gets taught in the states on the subject.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: