Thursday, January 9, 2020

Week 1_Chau Nguyen_ASA150E

Something that I thought was particularly interesting about Chau Nguyen's South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of a Vietnam War and After was the fact that it centered the experiences of a South Vietnamese soldiers from a variety of backgrounds, departing from my typical understanding of the Vietnam War solely focusing on American veterans. I thought it was particularly interesting how Nguyen uses personal experiences and testimonials from a variety of soldiers to discuss the perils the young soldiers faced, alongside the temporality of relationships between friends. This is especially significant in how Quan has maintained his friendship from fellow rangers and infantryman transnationally, underscoring the extent to which the displacement of individuals and diasporas is only one dimension to Vietnamese efforts to maintain community. In relation to this week's theme of "Our Past is Our Present," the soldiers' personal experiences and reflections on their own role in the war elucidated the mistreatment of Vietnamese soldiers on both sides of the war. However, in relation to my own experiences, learning about the experiences of Vietnamese soldiers rather than American ones also lent me significant insight into the complexities of Vietnamese soldiers going into war due to the differing cultural expectations and impacts of soldiers going to wars — not only did their conditions inhibit their future prospects, but their deaths were also severely forgotten.

The underlying "disposability" of soldiers further underscores the degree to which war renders human lives as obsolete, entirely dismissive of their relationships with their family and partners. Learning about how the war fragmented and destabilized the possibility of relationships, marriages, and structured Vietnamese families also allowed me to have a clearer perspective on the devastating effects of war on a micro and macro level.

One question I thought of was despite the significant amount of coverage on the atrocities of the Vietnam War and its "misguidedness," why is there little to no effort of the press to document the Vietnamese lives lost? Looking at the My Lai Massacare, how can we understand the paradoxical mourning and regret over U.S. intervention in Vietnam and its horrific destruction of the land juxtaposed to the absent/lack of institutional support for empowering/lending voices to Vietnamese soldiers impacted by the war?

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