Legacies of the American-Vietnam War

Somewhere in Vietnam, a deformed child begs for change

(an unacknowledged, third generation victim of the spray)

A few streets over, an ARVN soldier is turned away from the V.A.

(only “freedom fighters” are eligible for benefits, they say)

In Can Tho, a tourist takes his first bite of Banh Xeo

(pleasantly surprised to find that ‘Nam is not like Rambo)

Meanwhile, two unlikely allies unite against Agent O

(in a class action lawsuit filed against Monsanto)

Through DNA testing, a man finds out his brother’s still alive

(at age five, they were separated by a parallel line)

Down in Ho Chi Minh, a student examines the National Archive

(only to find all her information requests denied)

Up North, an old man hums the anthem of the Youth Shock Brigade

(while he struggles to remember all his children’s names)

In Hue, thanks to anonymous tips, a discovery is made

(another mass grave, filled with Vietnamese MIA)

On some suburban street, a former bar girl reminisces fondly

(she says the war was the only time she ever really felt free)

Meanwhile, a scholar says it was an issue of body autonomy

(that’s why he went to school instead of an unjust war, you see)

“When will we ever be free?” cries a young black kid in Detroit, Michigan

(as he marches to protest the brutality of pigs)

Half a world away, a rice farmer learns the hard way where not to dig

(you never know where the landmines were hid)

A bomb crater, covered by overgrowth, hides tunnels and body-sized holes

(only a few meters from where the tour tickets were sold)

To the south, the floods force fishermen to leave their homes in droves

(a section of the river system once flush with vital mangroves)

Somewhere in America, a broken man bares his soul through poetry

(while he waits in endless lines for traditional talk therapy)

Nearby, a second gen Vietnamese earns her Bachelor’s Degree

(while her father cries, for the first time, at the ceremony)

The leaders of the world question what there is to learn from war

(as they mobilize their militaries to wage one or two more)

In search of answers, a young girl travels near and far

(she finds them in every story, every smile, every scar)

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