Wednesday, 14 June 2017


2017 Nghĩa Trang Quân Đội Biên Hòa (ARVN Cemetery)
Published on Jun 13, 2017

Trích từ Nguyễn Ngọc Chính's Blog

By Richard Blystone

1 –
A short distance away to the north of the highway, we find the old South Vietnamese national military cemetery, called the Bien Hoa cemetery. At one time, this was the largest cemetery in southern Vietnam.

Now it is surrounded by a high cinderblock wall topped by rolls of barbed wire and overseen by watchtowers. A sign warns visitors not to take pictures. Even a nearby hillside temple, where one might normally begin a paying of respects, is off limits.

Next to the cemetery we see what looks like a few hundred new Vietnamese army recruits doing laundry and planting vegetables. Why are so many troops needed at such a spot? Why does the cemetery look like an armed camp?

These young soldiers based at the cemetery — born after the end of the Vietnam War — can no longer be threatened by the South Vietnamese "reactionaries" who lie by the thousands in the ground here. These dead South Vietnamese soldiers, called "puppets" by the Communist Party, are given no recognition in official histories or museums.

Through gaps in the cinderblock wall, we see that some of the graves are surrounded by tall weeds. A videotape reaching Vietnamese in the United States more than a year ago showed some gravestones to be damaged. Parts of the cemetery appear to have been vandalized.

Why was this allowed to happen? Why the high walls and watchtowers? What does the government fear?

Is this a prison for ghosts?

We decide to go directly through the front gate. Two uniformed guards challenge us. We have to have a specific gravesite to visit, they say, or a mission of some kind. It's not enough just to want to pay respect.

Then a man wearing a white shirt and carrying a cell phone arrives at the scene on a motorbike. He has state security written all over him.

We begin to worry that this guy could cause problems for our Vietnamese driver, and we decide to leave.

Back in Saigon, a colleague, Jim Pringle, tells me that he once raised the issue of access to military cemeteries at a news conference with officials of the Communist Party Committee of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). An official responded that the government was trying to make the cemeteries more accessible to relatives of those who had died fighting on the South Vietnamese side. (Dan Southerland, July 15, 2005)

The weeping heavens of the monsoon turn the paths between headstones into brown rivers. That is the only sign of mourning at this Vietnamese graveyard. The untended graves nearly obscured by long grass; black moss encroaching on the names of the dead.

This was the cemetery of the army of South Vietnam.

From this gentle slope you can see the industrial zones that were the big bases of Bien Hoa and Long Binh, where the U.S. military planted small American cities, complete with bowling alleys, hamburger bars, movie theaters.

Here, America's client erected something very different. At the gate, a touching statue: a weary soldier, seated, rifle across his knees, helmet in his hands.

That's gone.

Behind it an honored resting place for 20,000 soldiers, a small proportion of the total of South Vietnam's dead.

Part of that has been razed for a brick kiln and a factory, we're told, and the families of the dead were told to remove them or forget them.

Some had volunteered to fight; many more had no choice. Some believed in their anti-communist cause; others really didn't care. Some fought bravely; others just tried to stay alive. But it came to the same thing in the end.

No monuments for them, no parades, no multimillion-dollar searches for their remains.

While the new Vietnam celebrates the visit of President Clinton, here the past has to grieve for itself. And the survivors must fend for themselves.

(Richard Blystone, Nov 20, 2000)


Dan Lam Phim   -   Published on Jun 28, 2014

Dan Lam Phim   -   Published on Jun 28, 2014

Dan Lam Phim   -   Published on Jun 28, 2014

Dan Lam Phim   -    Published on Jun 28, 2014

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