Camera roll 9 is up... Speed (Clapstick) Sound 10
While we made very substantial progress on the agenda that we had set out to address, clearly for those of us that went, the more significant aspect of the trip was the personal experience that we went through. To go back to where you fought a war, believe me is a very profound experience.
Intellectually, I can understand why the Vietnamese fought the way they did and so on and so forth, but the truth of the matter is is that emotionally I still carried a lot of resentment toward the Vietnamese. Meeting them now, as I did going back to Hanoi and getting down to Saigon and making friends with them and no longer viewing them as the enemy or the potential enemy, went a very long way for me and for all of us, and we got rid of emotional baggage, it you wish, and we came to a certain peace.
To see Vietnam as the country, to smell it, to see the rice paddies and the tree lines and the hooches and the people running down the roads; it just replaced, if you wish, you know, what had been the time frozen images of that country at war with a new set of images that, again, gave us a country that was at peace, people that were friends and that just went a long way.
I think the... what I came out of this trip to Vietnam with was an understanding. The most significant thing, I believe, that we as a nation could do is make a peace with Vietnam in fact.
Effect normal relations. End the war. To go as we did through the streets of Hanoi
and we were there on the ninth anniversary of the Christmas Bombings and let's remember something: in the ten days of those Christmas Bombings, we dropped more bombs on Hanoi
and Hai Phong
than Germany dropped on England
in the entire Second World War, alright?
To be there on the anniversary of that kind of a bombardment and it was noted with posters around town and still have the people come up to us, "Who are you?" and we said, "We're Americans" and be friendly and never once encounter a negative glance or any hostility of any sort, of any kind made clear that for the Vietnamese, our war is over and it's history. Their concern now is with China and other issues.
To have the people in Vietnam regard us as friends and say "We're not angry with you the people. It was Johnson, it was Nixon, it was Kissinger, not you."
While that might not necessarily be true, at least that's where their thinking is with it. To then come back to this country on our return from the first visit to Vietnam and run into this buzz saw of just raw emotion and hostility and bitterness expressed toward the Vietnamese and "Why did you deal with those gooks?" and stuff like that was shocking.
And it just, again, made very clear; for the Vietnamese, the war was over; for the American people, the war continues. And I think until we end the war, make friends with Vietnamese as we did with the Germans and as we did with the Japanese, we are going to remain captive in our hearts and minds to that experience and that's why I say, yes it will be beneficial, obviously, for the Vietnamese for normalization of relations to occur, but I assure you it will be more beneficial for the American people to finally get it on and move down the road a little bit.