ASA 150 E
While the popular conception of war is less concerned with fondness and attachment than it is with merciless violence, the friendship forged during wartime is still a crucial part of the story. In Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen’s South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of the Vietnam War and After, the intense bond between An and Tu is only one example of how a single story of friendship manages to be both a unique narrative as well as a universal example of the pains and failures that come from war. Nguyen explains that “friendships among soldiers in wartime are poignant not only because of their potentially evanescent dimension but because they are shaped at such a formative time in their lives and in such exceptional circumstances. Tempered as they are by the awarenesses of loss or impending loss, they can leave a lasting imprint.” (110). This sense of friendship between the childhood friends who later became fellow Rangers is not only what helped to motivate An to look back at his wartime history, but galvanized him to widely circulate Tu’s story of Tu being the victim of a war crime shortly before his death. An’s emotional call to action by Tu's story was not merely an isolated event of discovering his friend’s fate and seeking justice. It was a process of combing through one’s history, honoring the memory despite the diaspora, contributing to the oral history project, and defending his friend’s personality to the very end.
How do we honor friends and friendships made and lost during times of war? Does the process of honoring them differ for every friendship, or should there already be a standard way to honor fellow soldiers as a whole (through activism, through memorials, etc)?