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Perhaps you’re a military history buff. Or your father or grandfather served in Vietnam. Maybe you did. Or you’ve heard about people who have served, and then gone back to visit, and you might have wondered why they’d want to. The answers are as many and varied as the people involved. For whatever reason, Vietnam has lately played host to any number of people who’ve had an interest in what has come to be known as the most unpopular war the United States ever fought.
We won’t try to analyze the reason why people want to go to Vietnam to reconsider what happened there all those years ago. We’ll just tell you what to look for.
The Central Highlands Battlefield
This area comprises the southern portion of the Annamete Range, including the provinces of Kontum, Lam Dong, Gia Lai and Daklak. The location was strategic because it was close to the borders of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the Laotian border, the Cambodian border, and National Route 1. Much fighting took place in this area during the war. Thankfully, it is no known more for its temperate climate and beautiful scenery.
The My Lai Massacre
My Lai is located south of Da Nang. In 1968, while flower children preached peace and love in San Francisco, Lieutenant William Calley sent his troops into the village of My Lai with orders to fire. More than 300 civilians were killed. No one returned fire. Today, you can talk with local villagers and hear the stories that they’ve had passed on.
DMZ Hamburger Hill
The battle of Hamburger Hill is known as the bloodiest confrontation between Vietnamese and American soldiers. US troops survived jungle warfare to capture the hill. The carnage led to the term – people were pretty much turned into hamburger in that battle.
From Saigon to the DMZ (de-militarized zone), the fighting raged fast and furious. For many soldiers on both sides, this was an experience that would change a person’s life forever, and forever alter their perceptions of humanity. A soldier might, for instance, hear the phrase “Route 9,” and be taken back to a time he might very well prefer to forget. From Dong Ha to Khe Sanh, Saigon to Cu Chi, and of course the infamous China Beach, these are names that will never be forgotten by the participants thereof.
The DMZ-Phong NHA Cave
When taken in the context of the Vietnam War, this is an anomaly. Set in the middle of a de-militarized zone, this is a virtual fairyland. Surrounded by tropical forests, the cave of Phong Na boasts incredible grottos and the longest underwater river in the world. It’s truly a testament to the beauty that can be found in a world that is so often beset by the carnage of war. Mankind destroys, and yet in the midst of our inhumanity to one another, if you believe in the benevolence of a supreme creator, you can look at what He has given us, and find hope.
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