Century Marks

Repeating ourselves: Laurel Wamsley, 20-year-old daugher of a Vietnam veteran, traveled to Vietnam to come to terms with what the U.S. did there a generation ago. She discovered that people didn’t hate her because she’s American, but they didn’t seem to want to talk about the war. At the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City she saw displays of the atrocities of that war—a photo, for instance, of American soldiers holding the decapitated heads of Vietnamese, and another of an American infantryman with a Vietnamese captive on a leash. Wamsley wonders what Americans have learned from the Vietnam experience. That war is hell? That it divided the U.S.—never mind what it did to to the Vietnamese? On the war in Iraq, she says: “If we don’t force ourselves to realize that the war isn’t just about us, that our military isn’t just a metaphor for the American tale of heroism, then we will go through all of this again” (Utne, January-February).


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