One issue Yen Le Espiritu brings up in Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refugees is the extent to which the renarration of the Vietnam War has departed from the U.S.'s humiliating defeat and catastrophic devastation of Vietnam and displacement of its people — rather, much of the popular discourse on the Vietnam War valorizes the nobility of the "brave" U.S. soldiers. Perceived as the harbringers of salvation to the "Vietnamese refugees," rescuing them from their expertly piloted helicopters, the U.S. military defines itself as superior in relation to the inferiority of the desecrated and exotic Vietnamese land, and its mentally and physically incapacitated people.
I thought the reification of U.S. superiority and an emblem of democracy was particularly significant in how the author also discusses how the Vietnamese community also adopts these ideations of America, and also narratives of themselves as the model minority. The overarching "organized forgetting," as she describes in Chapter 4 of her book, continues to reinforce the notion that U.S. military intervention as key to "America's self-appointed roles as liberators—protectors of democracy of, liberty, equality, both at home and abroad" (96). I think this is interesting in how it reminds me of the rave reviews about 1917, the epic-war movie recently released. In tailing the journey of two British soldiers and detailing the tragedies of war, it somehow still perpetuates a Eurocentric value in that the only lives worth mourning over are white ones, while those considered "Other" as ignored. Why do we continue to mourn the lives of Vietnam veterans, yet fail to mention the 400 Vietnamese women and children the U.S. military murdered in the My Lai Massacare? This "organized forgetting" has been instrumental in glossing over the U.S. atrocities in Vietnam and somehow has distorted the public, including the Vietnamese community, into this expected gratitude towards the U.S. Why does no one question the expected gratitude of refugees who were displaced by the very people that are claimed to have saved them?
One question I have is what do Vietnam veterans feel/think when hear about the numerous amount of Vietnamese lives lost? What happens when they learn about this organized forgetting? Attached is an image of the Phan Thi Kim Phuc, a woman who became famous after she was photographed a the famous "Napalm Girl," where she is running away naked from napalm bombings. While the initial reception of the photo drew international criticism towards U.S. intervention, much of the rhetoric surrounding her is about how her "forgiveness" and "gratitude" towards the U.S. for providing better opportunities. Emphasizing her "gratitude" for the U.S. even in describing the violence enacted towards her, underscores the extent to which the U.S. is immune to criticism due to its savior-like military.
Source 1: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/kim-phuc-napalm-girl-vietnam-war-dresden-prize-award-peace-germany-a8773851.html