In the U.S. portrayal of the Vietnam War, propaganda posters and memorials paint the returning veterans as success stories, the heroes of a war that prevented the further spread of communism. The American perspective of the Vietnam War fails to shed a light on the intimate, personal stories of the Vietnamese who endured the loss, pain, and bloodshed as result of the conflict. Unfortunately, this lack of representation still poses a barrier for Vietnamese American communities who are trying to recover the lasting consequences of the war, as well as younger generations who are trying to connect to their roots, but find inner strife instead. This inner turmoil present within our communities has endured generations and is further exacerbated by language barriers, cultural differences, and is a direct result of intergenerational trauma. By focusing on the history of memory of those who survived the outcome of the Vietnam War, in South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of the Vietnam War and After, Nguyen (2016) emphasizes the untold stories that American history books neglect and overlook. Sharing an oral history of memory, Nguyen repaints the narrative, rightfully granting the spotlight to those who deserve to be heard.
With the help of activists who are amplifying the voices of those whose stories have been previously ignored, stories of the people whose lives were uprooted as result of the war are finally gaining recognition. For example, a prominent and touching story stems from the relationship between two friends, Nguyen Huu An and Tran Ding Tu. Nguyen speaks about his friendship with Tran with nostalgia, as young boys who ended up having to enlist into the war; however, his story ends on a sour note as he finds out that his friend passed away during the war effort, serving his country. This experience is common among those who grew up during the war, yet it is given little attention.
It begs the question; how can we grant families the opportunity to speak on behalf of those who have been reduced to silence? How can we properly accommodate and give aid to those who are still suffering from the consequences of the war but remain insecure, due to stigma and the lack of resources? For the common person, how can we support activists in their work and inform ourselves? Being a member of a marginalized group, especially as a child to refugee parents, I find myself suppressed as a young adult; feeling the unsurmountable pressures and burdens passed on from my familial expectations and standard of success, I find it difficult to become involved on a deeper level due to my own hectic schedule of working and attending school full-time…
The following link is a podcast about how Walter Cronkite's broadcast changed history, turning the American public against the Vietnam War. Media has proved to be largely influential in the emerging perspectives following the war.
Nguyen, N. H. C. (2016). South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of the Vietnam War and After: Memories of the Vietnam War and After: ABC-CLIO.
Washington Post. (2019). How one broadcast changed the war [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from: https://soundcloud.com/washington-post/how-walter-cronkite-helped-turn-the-american-public-against-the-vietnam-war?in=washington-post/sets/retropod-1968