Quick update as we are headed out this morning to visit the Memory House at the battlefield known as LZ Brillo. It was a very long journey as we left San Francisco Saturday night (1:35 a.m. Sunday, really) and arrived in Saigon on Monday morning. (Don't know what happened to Sunday.) We didn't stop in Ho Chi Minh City, though; we pushed on to Pleiku (turboprop) and on to Kontum (cab sans shocks). Finally made it to a bed and, in the morning, the requisite bowl of Pho (see pic). On the other side of the bridge featured in the video is one of the places that Deryle spent some time during the war. Kontum sits in a beautiful lush valley and, although it's the dry season, somebody forgot to tell the clouds.
Memorial Day Haiku:
your intent noble
the reality less so
so sorry you died.
I know I know...it was just July the 4th not Memorial Day. But I wanted to share that Haiku I wrote on Memorial Day for a reason. Deryle and I are returning to Vietnam in a couple of weeks (thanks to all of you). We had not intended to return before completing the film, but Deryle was invited by a group of North Vietnamese soldiers to dedicate a “Memory House” honoring the dead of a horrific battle in May of 1968 that Deryle was involved in. (You may remember an update from Hanoi, Update #22, where Deryle had dinner with these North Vietnamese soldiers. One of them says, “Thank you for not killing me.” To which Deryle replied, “Likewise.” Go back and take a look.) The dedication is on July 27th (the Vietnamese Memorial Day). So, this year Memorial Day comes after Independence Day. This is what has caused the delay on sending out of some of the rewards. Please be patient. We promise everyone will get their rewards. And also, please respond to the surveys going out requesting mailing information, etc.
We had the good fortune to spend an evening in the town of A Luoi. While there we interviewed Suel Jones, a twice-wounded marine who has been coming back to Vietnam since 1998 and now splits his year between Alaska and Da Nang. Suel grew up in Kerville, Texas, just a piece up the road from where I grew up and he's got more stories than Carter has little pills. Sorry...I'm waxing Texan. Suel's story is too long to tell here, but to give you some idea, when we visited the embassy in Hanoi Suel had no problem yelling at the team of diplomats about the anemic response of the State Department and the United States Government to the devastation caused by our wanton use of dioxin-laced herbicides during the war. The video below has nothing to do with that except that we were driving through beautiful mountainous jungle (tremendous amounts of triple-canopy jungle were destroyed by agent orange and other toxic herbicides) when...the bus overheated. The one upside? I was able to get out and shoot a little video:
Over 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers buried here. This national soldiers' cemetery is near the Ho Chi Minh trail. One is struck over and over by the sacrifice these people made to protect their country. It's hard to imagine that estimates of the number of Vietnamese killed during the American War is over four million.