During Christmas 2007 I traveled back in time with my family, to Vietnam, for the first time in thirty-two years. I was feeling a deep need to see the place once more, a regret at having withdrawn from a country I had visited four times during the war. I wanted to understand the long-term lessons and, on a personal basis, track down the Vietnamese guides and translators, men and women, who assumed an ideological faith in the American “people” they escorted through ruins inflicted by the American “enemy.” They would become important diplomatic bridges between our two countries in the postwar period. Most were survivors of the French and American wars and would be in their 80s by now. Were they still alive? How had they suffered? After the exuberance at their victory and reunification after 1975, how had they adjusted to a Vietnam without war? Vietnam’s consul in San Francisco, Chau Do, said many of these old revolutionaries were alive, excited by my return and inquiring whom I wanted to see. I told him that my closest Vietnamese friend was a poet, musician and translator, Do Xuan Oanh, who was perhaps 40 in those days. “I can help you… Read full this story
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