"All the wrong people remember Vietnam. I think all the people who remember it should forget it, and all the people who forgot it should remember it." – Michael Herr
This quote made a profound impression on me when I first read it. I was born 4 years after the fall of Saigon, which ended my country's involvement in Vietnam. I have no ties to Vietnam. No one in my family fought in the war. It was always a distant thought that only came up during history classes in school. Those very same classes that instilled a disgust for all things communism and praised democratic societies.
When I finally moved to Vietnam, I arrived with a biased opinion. One that was American. Whether it was a misguided sense of patriotism or a loyalty to history books, I looked at Vietnam as something I was not allowed to love. Yet as time progressed I found the lines of what I thought were "right" and "wrong" blur. I found that I, like most of the world, really did not understand Vietnam at all.
As the country continued to develop around me, I drew a parallel to my own transitions in life. And I found friendship in the sons and daughters of former North Vietnamese soldiers and that of South Vietnamese people who were once exiled. I realized that war is hell and there are always consequences no matter what side you are on.