It’s surreal living in Hanoi, Vietnam on Memorial day, in a country that spent more than 20 years at war with the United States not that long ago. As I enjoy my day off, I have reflected on the over 58,000 American lives lost here.
I’ve never felt anything but warmth from the Vietnamese people, and no one here lives their daily lives thinking about the war that ended in 1975. There has been a sincere reconciliation and great effort to return those soldiers lost in Vietnam back to their families. This is a country that has moved on from the war but is in many ways still reflective of it.
Living here makes it hard to forget who Memorial honors. I drive by walls that boast of bringing down US bombers. My grocery store and gym are on the old grounds of the “Hanoi Hilton”. We often drive by the commemorative stone that tells people where John McCain’s plane went down and I’ve visited the sight of a B52 bomber that was shot down and remains where it fell.
In Da Nang we visited a café that was run by a woman who provided aid to US soldiers. Her café is filled with pictures of US soldiers who stayed on the beaches close by. The Independence Palace is brimming with history as it was the site of the fall of Saigon in April 1975.
Today, surrounded by memories of a past war, I am grateful to those who sacrificed their lives for my freedom.