When I was born, the war was already underway. I lived it everyday for 15 years. But I was not an unhappy child. In North Viet Nam, during the 1960s and 70s, I thought war would last forever, like clouds in the sky. However, in 1975, we saw the advance of red flags in our school maps. Everyday, a student would place a red flag upon a new city captured in South Viet Nam. When the re-conquest concluded, I cried like the others, but I did it because I was afraid: what would happen now that the war was over?
During the first decade after the war, we lived under the same strict regime that existed during the war, based on the same ideological strictness. In the South, people were put in jail, properties were confiscated and there was “cleansing” among intellectuals. The war against Cambodia, and later against China, started and the unification brought international isolation, poverty and repression. The opening policy arrived later and in 1994 the American embargo was lifted.
Today, for most of the Americans, the war is something of the past, and they only speak about it as a comparison element with other conflicts. In Viet Nam, however, it is not possible to forget this war that killed four million people and spread large amounts of chemical products. In addition, the war was a complete victory for communism, which continues to use this argument to stay in power 30 years after it ended. Our traditional values have disappeared and the most noble aspirations of communism have been replaced by corruption, hidden ethnic conflicts, violation of human rights and social inequalities. It all remains and it continues to be as evident as the clouds in the sky until things change.

Los Angeles Times (United States)

Clouds of War Still Hover Over Vietnam”, by Pham Thi Hoai, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2005. This text has been adapted from a more extensive article published in the website Opendemocracy.Net.