Nguyen’s South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of the Vietnam War and After spoke volumes on how the people who were affected by the war dissect the turn of events, it was emotionally disturbing to think that these stories of South Vietnamese soldiers were overshadowed by, as Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen calls it, “privileged narratives.” The stories of women who fought and served in the military reflected their loyalty to their origins and their roots. Relating this to the theme of reframing the narrative behind Viet Nam warm, it just proves that the whole story is marred by “curated” memories that only appeal for the West. Our history textbooks didn’t tell us Nguyet’s hard labor experience after the war: “We realized that our allies had abandoned us and that we would lose the country (…) There was no democracy, no human rights, no freedom. I lost my youth. Males and females aged eighteen and over were forced to join the Youth Volunteers and sent to the New Economic Zones (Nguyen, p.100).” These personal accounts painted a picture beyond the cookie-cutter context of Viet Nam war in media and textbooks.
These accounts were repressed and merely omitted from the actual truth, as a student I’ve learned about the “privileged narrative” in which the context is centralized towards the involvement of the United States in the Viet Nam war. It focuses on the military efforts of regimes in Viet Nam and how that is juxtaposed with Viet Nam’s ancient histories. The stories of men and women who were involved in the war were not well represented in our general understanding of the war. This question our current process of curation and selection of accounts when developing and preserving history. How can contemporary authors achieve a balance of power that well captures personal, political, and war-time stories? Chimamanda Ngozi Adihcie outlines the danger of a single story and how that can promote misunderstandings. She shares her interaction with mainstream media and how white authors retell stories about Africa as a colonized land that needed saving from Western imperialists:
TED. “The Dangers of a Single Story. Youtube. 7 October 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg
Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen. South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of the Vietnam War and
After. 2016. Introduction; Chapter 5: Friendship and Sacrifice; Chapter 4: Military Women.