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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

Reeducating tourists at the War Remnants Museum

November
17

My father didn’t want to go to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, because we had heard that it’s a very one-sided, anti-American portrayal of the Vietnam War. We walked up to the entrance, where he had planned to leave me for an hour, but then the American military vehicles and weapons in the courtyard got his attention and he shelled out the $1 admission fee. Here he is, standing next to an M-48 tank.
tank.jpg
Most of the museum, with the exception of an exhibit of peace-themed children’s art, consists of photos depicting the horrors of the Vietnam War, beginning with the fight against the French in the 1940s and 1950s, then through the American involvement. Unfortunately, as our group had warned us, the information is not always accurate, especially because it completely ignores the fact that South Vietnamese (ARVN) forces were involved in combat operations. You walk through the museum, and you get the distinct message that Americans and their international allies came in and attacked the Vietnamese people, without any mention of any dispute between the North and South Vietnamese.

And then, as I went through the museum, I realized something that rings true for the other places we’ve seen on our trip: the Vietnam War here is portrayed as a resistance war between Vietnam and America, not as a Vietnamese civil war with American involvement. There are no references to South Vietnamese troops anywhere: not at this museum, not in any cemeteries, not in any war memorials. It’s as though they never existed, and the war was simply, as they call it, the American War.

It’s all rather Orwellian.

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 17th, 2007 at 8:00 am by Nicole Neroulias. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Vietnam veterans, Vietnam veterans

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One Response to “Reeducating tourists at the War Remnants Museum”

  1. An interested reader

    I’ve read through this blog and I found this very interesting.

    Nicole, you complained that the depiction of the history/war is very one-sided in Vietnam, but let’s be honest here:

    Have you watched American reports/movies & read American accounts & visited American exhibitions about the war?
    Are they balanced or are they one-sided?
    How/Is the ARVN depicted in those movies?
    How are the VPA/VC depicted in those reports/movies/books/exhibitions?

    Let’s be honest: A VPA/VC veteran, who would visit the US would also run into the same “cognitive dissonance” between the friendliness of the American and the “one-sided” depiction of the VPA/VC.

    The Indochina conflict was an awful melange of colonialism-vs-nationalism & ideological & regional violence.

    The Communist government of Vietnam likes to simplify the conflict down to a simple resistance war against Colonial powers.
    Many of their former enemies (soldiers & governments) also like to simplfy the conflict down to a simple Communism-vs-Freedom war.

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About this blog
"Return to Vietnam" chronicles the journey of Col. Andonios Neroulias USA (Ret.) of Briarcliff Manor, NY, joined by his daughter, staff writer Nicole Neroulias, to the country he fought in 40 years ago. They are traveling with Vietnam veterans and Rotarians from Rockland County and other parts of the country. Check this blog for daily posts, photos, recordings and slideshows about their experiences.
About the authors
Nicole and Andonios Neroulias

Nicole Neroulias grew up in Briarcliff Manor, NY, and graduated from Cornell University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has covered religion and city news in Cyprus, Connecticut and California, where she earned several fellowships and prizes, including a national Religion Newswriters Association award. She joined The Journal News in early 2007 and also teaches journalism at Columbia.

Col. Andonios Neroulias emigrated from Greece in 1956 and was commissioned an officer through the ROTC program of the City College of NY. From 1967-68, he served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry (Tropic Lightning) Division, whose main base was in Cu Chi, known for its intricate Viet Cong tunnels. Among his military awards are the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He is retired from the U.S. Army Reserve and lives in Briarcliff Manor, NY.
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