March 24, 2013

Santa Barbara Schools - Day Two

By Pierce 
Our first morning in Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) began with a trip to the Reunification Palace. Previously known as the Presidential Palace because the president of South Vietnam lived there, the Palace is full of interesting stratagems, maps, exhibits, and other former government rooms used for speeches and media addresses. I was very intrigued by the myriad of intelligence's and maps they had in the secret chambers and underground rooms. Afterwards we ventured to a very traditional Vietnamese buffet. This smorgasbord of unique cuisine was comprised of duck embryos, snails, and and jello made from a root. You know what they say, "When in Nam, nam like the Namese." 

Following our lunch of champions was a cathartic experience of the Vietnam War Remnants Museum. From the guillotines, fire torture grills, and barbed-wire cages, to the deeply sickening faces of the innocents slaughtered, the museum brought the terrifying reality of the war to life. There were dozens of pictures of children suffering from the still present affects of agent orange. It was a truly ineffable experience. After seeing the museum my outlook on the War was transformed completely. In the United States, my generation is always told of the poor, innocent high school graduates naive of the horrors they are exposing themselves to, but seldom do we lament the innocent Vietnamese women and children. Don't get me wrong, I have the most respect and the greatest sympathy for those young men and women who died in Vietnam, however it is enlightening to look at the totality of the events in a new polar opposite light. This experience will not only provide me with a helpful outlook on the war and its repercussions, but it will also help me be more conscious to the fact that there are always to sides to every story and that propaganda exists no matter where you are.

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