The Thoughts I Carried

I’m currently working on a bibliography project, two 10 page research papers, a cataloging assignment and a 5 page librarian interview project. I figured it is the perfect time for some glorious procrastination, wherein I share with you my thoughts on my recent trip to Vietnam.

Maybe it is a bit of a stretch for me to say “my recent trip to Vietnam”, since I only spent about 3 hours in Saigon and 12 days in one beach town. I should say “my recent trip to the Saigon airport and Mui Ne.” Obviously, I cannot make any sort of generalizations about the country or the people, since I saw so very little of the actual country. Still, I am absolutely certain that Vietnam is a place I would love to return to. The little that I did see I enjoyed.

I grew up with Vietnam very much in my awareness. Not the real Vietnam, but the Vietnam of Oliver Stone and Tour of Duty and China Beach. (None of which were actually filmed there.) War movies and TV series about Vietnam were among my favorites. Who didn’t love Platoon and Good Morning Vietnam? (You can buy a t-shirt with those words emblazoned on it at any souvenir shop.) That episode of China Beach when nurse Colleen (Dana Delany) was kidnapped by VC and forced to perform a chest tube insertion on an enemy soldier inside an underground tunnel…well, let’s just say I’ll never forget it. That could have been the subconscious reason I became a nurse. (I also watched a lot of MASH, but don’t confuse me with Hot Lips Hoolihan!)

Some of my favorite books are In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason (which doesn’t actually have any scenes set in Vietnam, but features the daughter of a dead vet.) and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien which made Freshman American Lit class infinitely more interesting. People of my age were not even born during the war, but we grew up with all the war imagery.

So it was with these images in mind that I entered the country. And perhaps the only things that I recognized were the conical hats, long flowing Ao Dais, the thick lush countryside and the proliferation of old US Army jeeps. (Jeep-guts!*)
MS Word is calling me… More on Vietnam at my next work break!

Read journalist Ron Gluckman’s reports on Vietnam, including war tourism.

*A family joke

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