by Felicity Arbuthnot
Writer, Dandelion Salad
November 15, 2017
“One day while I was in a bunker in Vietnam, a sniper round went over my head. The person who fired that weapon was not a terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a so-called insurgent. The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill me was a citizen of Vietnam, who did not want me in his country. This truth escapes millions.” — Mike Hastie, Former U.S. Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71
On 10th of November, Donald Trump made a “Presidential Proclamation Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.” (See below.)
Marking Veterans Day and Military Families Month, he wrote:
“We salute our brave Vietnam veterans who, in service to our Nation and in defense of liberty, fought gallantly against the spread of communism and defended the freedom of the Vietnamese people …
“During this Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, we embrace our responsibility to help our Vietnam veterans and their families heal from the heavy toll of war. We remember the more than 58,000 soldiers whose names are memorialized on black granite wall in our Nation’s capital for having borne the heaviest cost of war.”
“To ensure the sacrifices of the 9 million heroes who served during this difficult chapter of our country’s history are remembered for generations to come, I signed into law the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, designating March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day …”
All countries commemorate and honour those lost in war. What makes the statement, in its entirety, cringe-making, is that it was released as Trump was being hosted in Vietnam, including attending State Dinner hosted by Vietnamese President Trần Đại Quang.
Not one word of regret, sorrow, reconciliation is offered for the Vietnamese dead, an upper figure of 3.8 million, the near equivalent of wiping out the entire population of Panama, Bosnia Herzegovina or Mauritania – or over three times the population of Cyprus or six and a half times that of Luxembourg.
The only mention Vietnam gets is that: “I am in Vietnam alongside business and political leaders to advance the interests of America …” To bleed the country dry again, the cynic might think. Oh and he is to: “promote peace and stability in this region and around the world.”
The same sort of “peace and stability” Vietnam experienced at US’ hands between 8th March 1965 and 30th April 1975 – though in fact the US had been involved in Vietnam since 1950.
Further, threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea and deliver: “fire, fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before” in the region, also hardly squares with “peace and stability.”
The devastation wrought against the Vietnamese people years was the result of America’s belief that Communism was threatening to expand across South-East Asia. If it had, what business was it of America? Regions have their own cultures, beliefs, history and should be free to take, or resolve, their own paths, without incurring threat of annihilation by the “Leader of the free world.”
However, such freedoms were not an option, thus 13,789 kilometers from America, eight million tons of bombs were dropped on Vietnam, more than three times the amount used in World War II.
Chemical weapons, Napalm and Agent Orange were amongst the ordnance. The resultant effects and ongoing birth deformities are alibi to the horror still.
“Napalm is a mixture of plastic polystyrene, hydrocarbon benzene, and gasoline. This mixture creates a jelly-like substance that, when ignited, sticks to practically anything and burns up to ten minutes. The effects of napalm on the human body are unbearably painful and almost always cause death among its victims. “Napalm is the most terrible pain you can ever imagine” said Kim Phúc, a survivor from a napalm bombing.
“Water boils at 212°F. Napalm generates temperatures 1,500°F to 2,200°F.”
“Kim Phúc sustained third degree burns to portions of her body. She was one of the only survivors of such extreme measures.
“Agent Orange is fifty times more concentrated than normal agricultural herbicides; this extreme intensity completely destroyed all plants in the area. Agent Orange not only had devastating effects on agriculture but also on people and animals. The Vietnam Red Cross recorded over 4.8 million deaths and 400,000 children born with birth defects due to exposure to Agent Orange.” (Emphasis added.)
Such was the Trumpeted “gallant” fight against the spread of Communism and “(defence) of the freedom of the Vietnamese people …” If anyone knows about “the heavy toll of war”, it is the Vietnamese.
Land in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia were also affected.
If you are trying to equate the 50th anniversary commemorations to a date, this is an annual event, which began on Memorial Day 2012 and ends on Memorial Day 2025. Which ever dates resonate from Vietnam it is hard to see what the 50th pertains to.
Donald Trump of course, avoided the draft five times, the last time with a heel spur, which is: “a painful inflammation of the fibrous band of connective tissue … that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot”, thus prevented him marching or walking long distances.
Oddly, it never prevented him playing golf.
Presidential Proclamation Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
November 10, 2017
COMMEMORATION OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VIETNAM WAR
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Today, I lead our Nation in somber reflection as we continue the 13-year Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War that began in 2012. We salute our brave Vietnam veterans who, in service to our Nation and in defense of liberty, fought gallantly against the spread of communism and defended the freedom of the Vietnamese people.
Fifty years ago, in 1967, nearly 500,000 American troops served in South Vietnam, along with approximately 850,000 troops of our allies. Today, during Veterans and Military Families Month and as the Federal Government observes Veterans Day, I am in Vietnam alongside business and political leaders to advance the interests of America, and to promote peace and stability in this region and around the world. I cherish this opportunity to recall, with humility, the sacrifices our veterans made for our freedom and our Nation’s strength.
During this Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, we embrace our responsibility to help our Vietnam veterans and their families heal from the heavy toll of war. We remember the more than 58,000 soldiers whose names are memorialized on black granite wall in our Nation’s capital for having borne the heaviest cost of war. We also pay tribute to the brave patriots who suffered as prisoners of war, and we stand steadfast in our commitment not to rest until we account for the 1,253 heroes who have not yet returned to American soil.
To ensure the sacrifices of the 9 million heroes who served during this difficult chapter of our country’s history are remembered for generations to come, I signed into law the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, designating March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Throughout this Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, and every March 29 thereafter, we will honor all those who answered our Nation’s call to duty. We vow to never again confuse personal disapproval of war with prejudice against those who honorably wear the uniform of our Armed Forces. With conviction, our Nation pledges our enduring respect, our continuing care, and our everlasting commitment to all Vietnam veterans.
We applaud the thousands of local, State, and national organizations, businesses, and governmental entities that have already partnered with the Federal Government in the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. Because of their remarkable leadership and dedication, countless Vietnam veterans and their families have been personally and publicly thanked and honored in ceremonies in towns and cities throughout our country. During my Administration, I promise to continue coordinated efforts to recognize all veterans of the Vietnam War for their service and sacrifice, and to provide them with the heartfelt acknowledgement and gratitude that they and their families so richly deserve.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby confirm the commitment of this Nation to the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, which began on Memorial Day, 2012 and will continue through Veterans Day, 2025. I call upon all Americans to offer each of our Vietnam veterans and their families a thank you on behalf of the Nation, both privately and during public ceremonies and programs across our country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.
DONALD J. TRUMP
from the archives:
The Killing of History by John Pilger
John Pilger: The Problem is Not North Korea, Not Russia, Not China, The Problem is The United States
Chris Hedges: The Hidden Tragedy of the Vietnam War
Kill Anything That Moves by Chris Hedges + Moyers and Company: Nick Turse Describes the Real Vietnam War
Another Sorry Episode in American History: Agent Orange by Sibel Edmonds
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