28 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
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Dialogue between U.S.-based Veterans for Peace (VFP) and Vietnamese veterans at War Remnants Museum, March 20, 2018
One of the least known but most important chapters in
the history of the American antiwar movement was the rebellion of troops within
the military. In June 1971 the prestigious military publication Armed Forces Journal published an
article entitled, “The Collapse of the Armed Forces.” Written by a retired
Marine Corps Colonel, the article stated: “The morale, discipline and battle
worthiness of the U.S. armed forces are, with a few salient exceptions, lower
and worse than at any time in this century and possibly in the history of the
United States.” In
virtually every corner of the military, the burden of fighting an unpopular and
unwinnable war led to dissent, social disruption and institutional decay.
I learned the full story of what happened at My Lai, I was in the Army
stationed at Fort Bliss Texas. I enlisted in 1968 for a stateside assignment hoping
to skate by and avoid the war, but my conscience wouldn’t allow it. Even though
I was stationed far from the front, I was part of the military machine and was
contributing indirectly to a war I came to see as unjust and unwinnable.
basic training they made us watch the propaganda film, Why Vietnam?, with President Johnson drawling on about the supposed
noble purposes of the war. Our commanders tried to convince us that we were
fighting to defend democracy and help the Vietnamese people. The more we learned
about what was actually happening, though, the more skeptical we became. As I talked
with vets coming home and began to read about the history of the war, I became deeply
alarmed and troubled. I could not be silent about something I knew to be wrong.
I felt compelled to speak out against the war even though I was an active duty
was a time of growing dissent and unrest within the military, as in the rest of
society. A widespread antiwar movement was emerging among GIs. We participated
in peace demonstrations, signed antiwar petitions and published underground
newspapers at military bases and aboard ships.
Bliss had an active group called GIs for Peace. We organized protests against
the war and had hundreds of members and supporters among troops at the base. We
published a monthly newspaper, The Gigline,
and had our own GI antiwar coffeehouse in downtown El Paso. When those of us in
the GI movement saw the news of the massacre at My Lai, we were horrified but
not surprised. Our ranks included combat veterans who had recently returned
from the killing zones. We knew how the war was being fought: combat sweeps and
attacks against villages, free-fire zones, and commanders constantly pushing
for higher body counts. The military strategy was to drive people out of their
ancestral villages into so-called strategic hamlets. In such a war, we knew,
civilian casualties were an inevitable and constant reality.
of our members at Ft. Bliss were outraged when a low ranking officer Lt.
William Calley was the only one convicted for the massacre, while all the higher-ups
who ordered the mission got off free. An angry local combat veteran went to the
El Paso police department and asked to be arrested, saying if Calley was guilty
so was he. GIs for Peace responded by convening a public hearing in which he
and other troops testified that they too had attacked civilians and described
what they had done.
Lai was the product of an unjust war that never should have been fought in
which American GIs ended up waging war against the Vietnamese civilians they
were supposedly sent to protect.
Among U.S. troops in Vietnam, organized dissent were
rare, but acts of direct resistance were pervasive and tore at the very fabric
of military capability. By 1970 the Army
and Marine Corps in Vietnam were experiencing widespread defiance and forms of
noncooperation that affected operational capacity. The most significant form of resistance to the war was combat refusal. On August 26, 1969 the headline on the front page of the New York Daily News read “Sir, My Men Refuse to
Go!” with the subtitle “Weary Viet GIs Defy Order.”
You can see the front page headline on the wall of
The article told the story of sixty soldiers in an
Army company near Da Nang who refused direct orders from their commander. There
were many other instances of combat refusal.
One study found 35 incidents of combat refusal in the Army’s 1st
Cavalry Division during 1970. Some of the incidents involved entire units.
This was an average of three combat refusals per month in just one division. If
we extrapolate the experience of the 1st Cavalry to the other six
Army divisions in Vietnam at the time, it is likely that hundreds of mutinous
events occurred in the latter years of the ground war. When commanders sent
their units into the field, they could not be certain that the troops would
The most horrific indication of the breakdown of the
armed forces was the prevalence of fragging, an attack with a fragmentation
grenade. The Army began keeping records
on assaults with explosive devices in 1969. By July 1972, the total number of
fragging incidents had reached 551, with 86 fatalities and over 700 injuries. The targets of these fragging attacks were mostly officers and noncommissioned
officers. The frequency of fragging in Vietnam War indicated an army at war with itself.
It provides grim evidence of the anger and social decay that were tearing the
By 1971 acts of sabotage by Navy crew members became a
serious problem in the Navy. Figures supplied to a Committee of the U.S. House
of Representatives listed 488 acts of “damage or attempted damage” in the Navy
during fiscal year 1971, including 191 incidents of sabotage, 135 arson
attacks, and 162 episodes of “wrongful destruction.”. Two U.S. aircraft carriers were put out of
commission for commission for months by acts of sabotage in July 1972, the
U.S.S. Forrestal and the U.S.S. Ranger. These actions caused major
damage and disrupted Navy operations.
Antiwar dissent and resistance also emerged in the Air
Force. The number of GI papers at air bases jumped from 10 at the beginning of
1971 to 30 a year later. Antiwar coffeehouses opened near several bases, and demonstrations and protest
actions occurred at or near air bases in April and May 1972.
to the second part of the opening ceremony for the Waging Peace exhibit. My name is Chuck Searcy and I am the
president of Veterans For Peace Chapter 160 based in Viet Nam, with some
members living and working in Viet Nam and others outside of the Viet Nam who
stay connected here with humanitarian efforts to heal the wounds of the war,
and with frequent visits to Viet Nam.
the seventh year that our VFP chapter has hosted American veterans to tour Viet
Nam, to see old battle fields that are now serene and peaceful, to look at the serious
damage our country inflicted on Vietnam and the recovery that is still underway,
and to witness projects that are helping to mitigate the continuing legacies of
war, unexploded ordnance and Agent Orange / dioxin.
American tourist, and not every U.S. veteran, wants to know the truth about the
war. But I am pleased to say that most
do seek the truth, and the success of this War Remnants Museum is evidence of
that interest. With over a million
visitors each year, this is the second most popular museum in the whole
year’s Veterans For Peace tour is the largest ever. There were 24 veterans and 15 additional
friends, family members, peace activists who assembled in Ha Noi 16 days ago. Another six VFP members and colleagues joined
us at Son My for the My Lai 50th anniversary commemoration, and an additional
five have joined us here in HCMC.
served in the Army, Navy and the Marine Corps. Some refused to deploy to Vietnam, some found
ways to resist once they arrived. Some deserted the military leaving family and
friends behind as they traveled into exile in Canada, France and Sweden.
us found ways to oppose and try to stop the war while we were in uniform or
after we left the service.
few minutes you will hear some of our stories.
We hope to hear stories from our Vietnamese friends who fought with
honor and passion to liberate your country from yet another foreign power. I would not be surprised if this dialogue, at
the end of our journey, is remembered as one of the most powerful experiences of
scheduled this to be a half-day meeting to allow us to adjourn early and have a
relaxing lunch at a nearby restaurant where we can continue to talk more
informally. We invite our Vietnamese
counterparts, veterans of the battles and of the resistance movement for
independence, to join us as our guests. So,
when this morning’s session ends, don’t go home. Stay.
We’ll have many more stories to share, along
with some good food
International Museum Day 2022: The Power of Museums (18/05/2022)
Notice of Change in Opening hours (20/04/2022)
Special offer in one and a half months (30/03/2022)
New Year geetings from The War Remnants Museum (31/12/2021)
New Opening Hours (effective from January 1, 2022) (29/12/2021)
Đoàn Đại biểu Đảng ủy, Hội đồng nhân dân, UBND Xã Đồng
Kỳ, Yên Thế, Bắc Giang tới thăm Bảo tàng Chứng tích Chiến tranh Sài Gòn. Những
chứng tích để lại cho em cháu, các thế hệ người con đất Việt, thật cảm động và
tự hào về sự hy sinh cao cả của cha anh vì độc lập, tự do cho dân tộc. Thật tự
Con là Tin 6 tuổi, con học được nhiều điều sau chuyến
tham quan. Con sẽ tự hào với dân tộc Việt Nam.
Con đã quay lại lần hai. Cảm xúc
vẫn như lúc ban đầu. Con cám ơn tất cả. Ông/Bà ngoại con cũng từng là những người
lính đấu tranh bảo vệ dân tộc. Con đến đây và hiểu nhiều hơn về sự hy sinh của
ông cha ta. Con cảm thấy biết ơn vì hiện tại được sống trong đất nước hòa bình.
Con sẽ cố gắng phấn đấu để góp một phần cho đất nước phát triển hơn nữa
Con thấy Việt Nam chúng ta rất đoàn kết, không chịu
thua một đất nước là Mỹ. Việt Nam con họ không hề bỏ nước, luôn luôn vươn lên
chiến đấu không ngừng, con rất quý mến họ và sẽ noi gương theo họ.
Hôm nay, tôi đã tham quan Bảo tàng Chứng tích Chiến
tranh. Tôi rất xúc động khi nhìn những bức ảnh – nhìn lại quá khứ kinh hoàng của
cả dân tộc. Tôi đã khóc khi nhìn những bức ảnh ấy. Biết
ơn vô cùng những người lính, những người chiến sĩ đã hy sinh thân mình cho nền
độc lập của Tổ quốc
Ngày 19/5/2022, nhân dịp kỉ niệm 132 năm ngày sinh
của Bác Hồ, tập thể 20CLC11 Khoa Công nghệ thông tin chương trình chất lượng
cao trường ĐH Khoa Học Tự Nhiên đã đến tham quan Bảo
tranh. Sau buổi tham quan, chúng em đã thấy được thiệt hại
nặng nề mà các cuộc chiến tranh để lại, đặc biệt là kháng chiến chống Mỹ 1954 - 1975
đã tước đi vô vàn sinh mạng của các chiến sĩ và nhân dân yêu nước. Chính vì thế, chúng em càng thấu hiểu được sự đau
khổ và tinh thần bất khuất, lòng yêu nước nồng nàn của đồng bào Việt Nam. Chúng
em sẽ cố gắng bảo vệ, gìn giữ bản sắc dân tộc và cùng xây dựng, phát triển đất
nước ta ngày một lớn mạnh hơn.
Very good museum! It really to help to
understand what really happened. Everything is much more real than expected.
I’m very happy to see that Vietnam War in another country. Một bảo tàng tuyệt vời!
Nơi đây thật sự hữu ích trong việc để hiểu những gì thật sự đã xảy ra. Tất cả mọi
thứ đều chân thực vượt quá sự trông đợi. Tôi rất hạnh phúc khi lại tham quan
Chiến tranh Việt Nam tại một quốc gia khác.
Can’t believe the Vietnam War lasted 17 years!
The amount of destruction cause unimaginable! Much love to Vietnamese people. Không thể tin Chiến
tranh Việt Nam kéo dài 17 năm. Tổng số thiệt hại thật không thể tưởng tượng được.
Gửi thật nhiều yêu thương cho người dân Việt Nam.
Là một giáo viên dạy Lịch sử, khi được tham quan
bảo tàng, bản thân nhận thấy rằng “phải trân quý hơn bao giờ hết “hòa bình – độc
lập – tự do”, càng biết ơn biết bao nhiêu sự hi sinh của biết bao thế hệ cha
ông đi trước. Hòa bình – Độc lập – Tự do ! Giữ gìn từng tấc đất. !
Những hình ảnh, dẫn chứng, di tích, hiện vật đã
làm sống lại một thời quá khứ đầy đau thương, mất mát nhưng vô cùng oanh liệt,
hào hùng ở trong tôi. Cầu chúc cho nước nhà, dân tộc ngày một vững mạnh, phồn
vinh. Thế hệ trẻ là những thế hệ làm nên đất nước của mai sau. Lịch sử vẫn sẽ sống
mãi, không nên bị lãng quên.
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