A healing journey

06/05/2015

There is a famous wall in Washington DC socalled Wall of war - which engraved the name of American soldiers who were died in the Vietnam War. This wall is so famous that well-known American singer Bruce Springsteen once wrote a song called “The Wall”, only that this song is not about the wall itself, which speak of an American feeling about the Vietnam war and the sadness left. According to the published documents, the number of US soldiers killed in Vietnam war was 58,256 people, including 1971 cases of disappearance. Along with the efforts of Vietnam, we have found and repatriated 697 cases so far. For Americans, it is a sad figure.
In the diplomatic history of the world, there is hardly a diplomatic relationship between the two countries which could be built from the repatriation of the remains as such between the US and Vietnam. Perhaps not many people are aware that the search for missing Americans was launched from 1973 by Vietnam, more than 20 years before the normalization of official relations between Vietnam - United States. Shortly after the Paris agreement on February 9, 1973, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong signed Decision No. 34/TTg for establishment of Vietnam Agency to search missing persons in the war. Joining the agency includes representatives of the Ministry of Defense, Foreign Affairs and Public Security and they operate under the coordinating mechanism.
Since 1974, Vietnam actively organized working groups to seek unilaterally American MIA (MIA). This activity was performed to 1988 although Vietnam was imposed an embargo, the two sides had no formal relations. Vietnam self-organized searching, collecting then returned to the US. The work was done entirely on humanitarian spirit of Vietnam.
The enormous humanitarian effort of Vietnam has impacted to perceive and thinking within political institutions, society, people and the US government. And MIA issue has become a bridge to help the two countries understand each other and come together. In September 1988, two governments formally discussed joint cooperation and since then the two sides have started finding activities.
Beside these difficulties which can not be described in words, the process of cooperation to seek missing Americans in Vietnam has witnessed tremendous sacrifice on both sides. On April 7, 2001, the helicopter carrying the delegation of Vietnam and the US had an accident in the mountains Am (Bo Trach district, Quang Binh province), killing all 16 people aboard, including 9 Vietnamese and seven Americans, including two leaders of the MIA Agency of Vietnam and the US.
The war is in the past. In that war, sadness and loss is inevitable and we could not choose. Any family who has relatives and everyone has own pain. The current generation can not change that reality but what we can do is creating a path to develop cooperation between the two sides, simultaneously erase the suffering and ruins of war.


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