A History Lesson for My Children

 In loving memory of History Prof. John A. Phillips, University of California at Riverside

By Linh Duy Vo
August 2, 1999

How could one nation be condemned as a cruel people, when only a particular group of them practiced cruelty? On Friday, July 30, 1999, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer David Holley wrote on the subject of Poland: "Faced with angry citizens and lawsuits abroad, government is moving to give back real estate taken by Nazis and Communists."
    One ought to underline and hyphenate "Nazis and Communists" here. Who in their right mind and with pure respect for the truth would dare to connect Godless Nazis-Communists with God-fearing Democracy?
    There is an American nurse who went to Vietnam and served there during the war, from 1969-1971. She came home with a heart full of hatred for what she saw: The cruelty that the Communist Viet Cong inflicted upon American soldiers, wounded and dead, day after day, before her eyes and in her arms.
    Her hatred for the Communists' atrocities had a ripple effect in her mind. She sees the whole people of Vietnam as cruel creatures, North and South. There's a touch of truth to that: The evil empire of Communism grew and spread like flesh-eating bacteria. It transformed those who were brainwashed with the cruel Communistic doctrine into a kind of diabolic humans such as Pol Pot, who exterminated one-third of the Cambodian population, and remembered as The Killing Fields. Mankind's history has recorded that Josef Stalin killed 50 million of his own people, that Chairman Mao Tse-tung murdered tens of millions of his Chinese citizens, and that Ho Chi Minh decimated hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. All in the name of Communist Revolution, but actually Enslavement.
    It's well concluded by The Orange County Register's editorial of Wednesday, July 14, 1999:
    "The communist system has done in Vietnam what it did in most countries where it prevailed -- created misery and poverty for the vast majority of people but kept a small ruling elite in a condition of relative comfort and power they don't want to give up."

Linh Duy Vo
August 2, 1999

* * *

On July 26, 1999, Nam Nurse Diana wrote:

From:    INTERNET:RNNamVet@<<  >>
To:    Linh_Vo
Date:    7/26/99 10:03 PM

RE:    Re: The American Soldier I Called Papa-san

Dear Linh,

Giant HUGS to you! From this Viet Nam Veteran Nurse. 1969---1971.

As An Army Nurse for nearly 2 years in Nam--and 3 years before that in the
US--I saw the destruction of SO many young boys by the Vietnamese! Their
bodies, minds and souls! I HATED ALL Vietnamese! North and South ! Your
people are so very CRUEL!! Read "WHY DIDN'T YOU GET ME OUT?" by Frank
Anton--a POW.

Linh--long after I came home, I STILL hated all Vietnamese ! I have prayed
to God for years to help rid me of this poisonous hate. Hate hurts one's
soul--The spirit--
I KNOW that !. I could not do it without His help! Perhaps God has sent me
to YOU!!
I would like to talk with you--I would LOVE to read your Dear Daddy Book--
Where would I find one? I NEED to heal from my hate and anger! Will you
help me??

I know you are in Calif--I am in North Carolina--but E-mail is great. I
think God put us together-- with help from the spirit of your Adopted Papa

Please reply with your comments.


* * *

From: Linh D. Vo
To: Diana, INTERNET:RNNamVet@<< >>

Date: 10/2/98 7:24 AM

RE: American Honor

My dear Nam Nurse Vet Diana,

It's still early in the morning. I got up to write you this letter. Yet I was up in my sleep much earlier because your sad words were wakening me and I saw myself talking with you, and we took a walk with the walk of healing. I, too, need to be bestowed upon a touch of healing, because life of a child of war is nothing an American household's dog wants to be a part of.

Your letter deeply touched me. It's short. For the heart is so close.

My mission of gratitude is on. I am grateful you wrote, so that I can write my words of Love and Gratitude to an American, one at a time.

On Veterans Day, 5 years ago, early in the autumn morning at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I found myself caressing the beautiful bronze sculpture of you: the Nam Nurse vet tending the wounded soldier. He, in my heart, is my American Viet Vet Daddy. I simply lovingly call him "papa-san."

Now, may I let myself get lost in a foggy sky of human philosophy. Then, philosophically speaking, your HATE has now become a blessing in disguise for me. It gives me the happiness to say with all my heart, that I am humbled you came to write me the heartfelt words. I am heartened to ask you for a hug of healing. I will write a poem of your pain, despair in hatred, for the flower of love and forgiveness is not nurtured by perfume, but nurtured by the most despicable waste of life. Yet the sweet smell from a rose will override the hateful thorns.... Just please do not bleed your beautiful fingers.

Please write back to me. My thankful heart awaits to write you more. It's my payment to America for her open arms -- I am her adopted son, a proud son. And, Diana, you are America.

God Bless us all.


Linh Duy Vo
(The Boy in the Poem)

* * * 

Diana's Letter to Linh:

From: INTERNET:RNNamVet@<<  >>
To: Linh_Vo

Date: 10/1/98 7:20 PM

Young man---

I would like to know about you, in order to heal my heart.
Forgive me--but I learned to HATE the Vietnamese while I was over there. I
am  a Nurse.

I was spat upon, slapped--and even bitten by my Vietnamese patients whose
lives I was helping to heal. I had rotten fruit thrown at me in the streets
while on my way to the Orphanage to help the children.

I do not want to hate anymore. Please send me your poem

Army Nurse Corps
Qui Nhon 69-71

Linh's Note:  Nurse Diana and I met at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., the morning of Veterans Day, 11 November 1998.  She gave me a very warm hug.

*  *  *

From:    Linh D. Vo
To:    RNNamDiana, INTERNET:RNNamVet@ << >>   
        cc: President Ronald Reagan Library/Museum
        cc: President Richard Nixon Library/Museum
Date:    7/25/99 12:23 AM

RE:    The American Soldier I Called Papa-san

Dear Diana,

Thank you for your letter in which you asked me to listen to you, that the "Viet vets get offended that I respectfully, gratefully address them 'papa-san'."

It has depressed me to face this kind of "obstacle" on my journey of healing, for my Viet Vet Daddy and for me. But who says life is always rosy? It's my fate to hear what you heard. It's my fate to keep going where I am going. America knows how proud I am to be her adopted son.

It took the Vietnam War as the last battle, win or lose, to bring down the Berlin Wall. Yet, our beloved American Viet vets were spat at, called "baby killers," despised even by President William Jefferson Clinton. No matter what they call my Viet Vet Daddy, he is always my PAPA-SAN.

Please access www.gratitude.org and click on An Excerpt in order to see what your heart has not seen, to hear what your soul has not heard. It's something deeper than a superficial, literal translation of words. It depends on WHO says what is being said.

I am happy to respond to anyone who worried you that my heartfelt loving word "papa-san" offended him. Remember how offensive it used to be when an anti-war activist heard the name "Viet Vet?" Would you like to know why? The vast part of the media succumbed to the shrewdness of the Communist-Propaganda-Machine. It even beat Jane Fonda, and turned her to betray America and our beloved Viet vets.

Remember when you were spat at by the uneducated Vietnamese peasants who were your patients in Qui-Nhon? The Viet Cong did so well in penetrating the cities and turned those patients against "Imperialist Americans." They infiltrated every inch of lies and slanders in order to instigate the anti-Vietnam-War protesters in the U.S.A. They used Americans' hands to stab their GIs' backs who were anti-communism soldiers, who were fighting a good fight thousands of miles from home.

Today I am home, America. I have learned for the first time there were "Anti-Vietnam-War Viet vets." I cried silently. I pray for their souls. I hope they will find the TRUTH in reading my Gratitude Home Page. Whether they care for it or not, may God bless them. After all, they are My Viet Vet Daddy's fellow soldiers, who finally brought down THE BERLIN WALL.

God Bless America.

Prayerfully yours,

Linh Duy Vo
(The Boy in the Poem)




  Copyright by Linh Duy Vo.  All rights reserved.