Very bad decision.
Monumental really in the whole realm of bad decision making.
Sometimes I’m fucked in the head.
Most of you reading this know me. I suck at these things. I constantly am amazed at the depravity that human beings can show toward each other. I can’t stand any of the “ism’s”, will step in anywhere if necessary, and will defend my friends with sometimes a downright nasty attitude, but worst of all, war traumatizes me. Horribly. But – sometimes a traumatic experience to me, would be mas day to the people who actually went through it. So I declared myself “unprincesslike” and off we went.
Brad was nervous from the start – but packed extra tissues bless his cotton socks – and followed me around the entire place with his hand in the small of my back. I couldn’t have made it without him.
Its somewhere that words can’t describe. The main hall is mostly differing photo exhibitions. Photo journalist's images things like that. The horror is undefinable.
Politics aside, How? How? How? have both sides never been held accountable for actions that have possibly been the worst of any war. Anywhere.
We see war tribunals all the time, about this Nazi commander, or that Iraqi dictator, or some other perverted idiot. But somehow (to my knowledge) apart from the odd tearful graphology from some 60 year old american senator for things he was “aware of” in the Vietnam war, I don’t think anyone from either side has every been held accountable. I spent most of the 3 hours in tears. I wasn’t the only one, and for once no-one tried to hide anything. I was standing in front of images, tears streaming down my face and would turn to the next one to see someone else next to me squatting down with their head in their hands.
Paige and Laura went the same day we did, and at one point we walked out of one hall to head to another, and Paige was sitting on a bench looking distraught and neither of us had to speak. We just nodded and walked on. Words just don’t work there.
As with most photo exhibitions, there is one or two images that stick with you.
It wasn’t the Agent Orange photos.
It wasn’t the piles of dead and tortured bodies.
It wasn’t the total devastation of acres and acres of land.
It was an American solder. It was actually 3 images. It was an all too familiar story.
“Pete” was a Captain in the American Forces. He had been in the army for 14 years at this point. I have no doubt that he would have done whatever he was told. He was a soldier. It was his career and I suspect his life.
Photo 1: “Pete” is talking to his helicopter crews explaining the mission they were undertaking that day.
Photo 2: After loosing 3 copters and having taken heavy fire, he was hanging out the side of his helicopter shooting his pistol, holding an injured countryman with his other hand trying to keep him alive.
Photo 3: He is in back at camp. In the bathroom. On one knee, head in his hands, sobbing.
How many lives were ruined I can’t begin to imagine and all I can hope for is that none of us ever have to see that kind of human depravity again.
Days later I am still in tears and I type here, but my very heavy heart was lightened considerably when Thong, our Viet guide explained to me only last night, after I asked him why there has never been any kind of tribunal over this war, that the Vietnamese people all realise that nobody won. In his words “We think both sides did things. Both sides suffered very badly and what good would it do”.
Before you say those angry words, take a breath, and think of how easily things can escalate. It all starts somewhere.
Lets be a bit nicer, a bit more tolerant and in the words of the ultimate peace keeper, Ghandi, lets “Be the change you want to see in the world. ”
Peace & Love,
- Only go with someone you love and trust.
- An endless supply of tissues will help.
- Be respectful of others reactions
- Don't plan anything for a few hours afterward. You may just need to sit for a while.