28 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
(+84) 08 2203 0682 - (+84) 28 3930 6664
Dialogue between U.S.-based Veterans for Peace (VFP) and Vietnamese veterans at War Remnants Museum, March 20, 2018
Thank for you inviting me to share my experiences in the GI
The coffeehouses started when two of my friends, Fred Gardner
and Donna Mickelson, came up with the idea to a open San Francisco style
cabaret in an army town so that antiwar GIs could find each other and know that
they were not alone.
We wanted the coffee houses to be an alternative to the bars and
whorehouses and jewelry stores trying to separate GIs from their paychecks.
We provided a safe haven where they could come on their days
off, listen to rock and roll and talk amongst themselves.
I was 18 years old, starting my sophomore year at the
University of South Carolina in the fall of 1967 when the UFO coffeehouse
opened there to serve soldiers at Ft. Jackson.
Donna painted a sign that looked like a
Fillmore dance poster declaring us to be the “UFO” Unidentified Foreign Objects
like an alien spaceship that dropped out of the sky from another planet.
We covered the walls with posters —Muhammad
Ali, the championship boxer who refused to serve in the U.S. Army, a surfing movie, the actress Marilyn Monroe, an
atomic bomb mushroom cloud, Stokely Carmichael the civil rights leader, a Toulouse Lautrec art poster, a cannabis
plant, John Lennon in “How I Won the War,” Lyndon Johnson holding up a hound
dog by the ears...
This sort of restaurant was so culturally
different from any other place in the conservative town of Columbia, South
Carolina we might as well have been dropped there from outer space.
I immediately embraced the concept and became a
regular. I was deeply affected by the Tet Offensive in late January 1968. Days later, the South Carolina state police
gunned down a group of black students trying to integrate a
bowling alley next to their campus.
In March I quit school and joined Fred in opening the 2nd coffeehouse
at Ft. Leonard Wood in Waynesville, Missouri.
The small town of Waynesville was a hostile environment. The
only women in town who would talk to me were prostitutes. I was shot at once
when I was driving to pick up pastries to bring back to our coffee house that
we called Mad Anthony’s. We were under constant threat. By then I was 19 years
old and had never lived outside of South Carolina.
Anti-war movement people visited us from Chicago and other
cities. Many would then open up coffee house outside of other military bases. And
we were featured in several national publications bringing increased attention
to the GI antiwar movement.
After Missouri, I went on to work in San Francisco, then
at the Shelter Half coffee house in Tacoma, Washington, near
Ft. Lewis & McChord Air Base. Eventually I moved back to San Francisco
to support sailors organizing to stop their aircraft carriers from returning to
In late 1969 I decided to put my money where my mouth was and
enlisted in the Army to organize from the inside. I felt that that was an
important point to make. When I walked into the recruiting office I was stunned
to discover that women under 21 years old needed their parents` permission to
enlist. I overcame that hurdle, but right before I was to report for duty they
told me that 6th Army Command had found me unsuitable for enlistment.
I am very proud of my work in the GI coffeehouse movement, and
it pains me greatly that the US government was somewhat successful in its propaganda
campaign against us, telling lies such as anti-war protesters spit on GI`s
returning from Vietnam.
No Sir. Those words uttered more than a half-century ago prevented my
complicity in a war of aggression that my comrades Dennis Mora, David Samas and
I branded as immoral, illegal and unjust. And more, those words set me on a
path that has led me to this observance.
But each soldier
must grapple with his conscience individually. Indeed, before we were driven to
the Fort Dix airport, each of us was told that the others had already boarded
the plane and were on their way to Vietnam. So, let me briefly explain how I
came to my decision.
On draft day, Dec.
6, 1965, my opinion about U.S. involvement in Vietnam was not yet formed. I
later befriended Dennis Mora, who initially refused to step forward for the
oath at the Induction Center. We did not take basic training together, but we
fortunately were in the same unit for advanced training. Dennis’s movement
connections were invaluable, as was David Samas’s
perpetual sense of humor.
From the first day
of reception at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, I understood that the treatment,
or more correctly, abuse, of the GIs was designed not simply to train us to
promptly obey orders as essential preparation for combat. Instead, I was
convinced that our mistreatment was more about crippling us intellectually,
shutting down our reasoning so that we would be better prepared to follow along
I began to view the
recent rebellions in our nation’s ghettoes in a different light and the
emergence of a counter culture in the nation also took on new meaning. Civil
liberties and civil rights were in the air and I was being ordered to march
lock step in the opposite direction.My decision not to take part in our
nation’s aggressionwas aided enormously by a powerful support system. My
mother, who had a sixth-grade education, did not hesitate to raise her voice on
my behalf, my brother threw himself into the anti-war movement, my sisters
stood by me. And my father, an active trade unionist and a self-avowed
liberation theologian,also joined the fight.
movement, of course, lifted us up and amplified our voices. Rather than
moderate our stance to gain more favorable treatment after our court martial,
we grew stronger and more resolute. Muhammad Ali’s induction refusal and Dr.
King’s decision to oppose the war, further validated our stance. Ali drew the
connection between Vietnam’s national liberation struggle and Black equality
when he famously said, “Why should a Black man go kill innocent yellow people.
No Vietnamese ever called me nigger.”
What we learned in
our study group was being whispered and soon shouted throughout the armed
forces. What were once embers of
military resistance burst into flames. This exhibit effectively documents the
depth and breadth of the resistance. At Leavenworth, weekend movie screenings
were accompanied by newsreels. But when news reports of U.S. military setbacks
in Vietnam were reported, Leavenworth prisoners would jump up and cheer. The
newsreels were discontinued. Another indicator of the rampaging opposition to
the war was the rise of the prison population from about 500 when we entered in
1966 to more than 1500 when we left about two years later.
Of all the material
that circulated in our study group, I was most impressed by the writings of Ho
Chi Minh. I learned that his name means “He Who Enlightens.” And that he did.
I traveled to North
Vietnam in 1969 as part of a peace delegation that accompanied U.S. POW’s home.
I found my Vietnamese brothers and sisters to be among the gentlest people as
well as the fiercest fighters. I was moved by their warm embrace and undying
Today, I’m proud to
stand on the soil of those from whom I’ve learned much from and owe much to. I
continue to draw strength from their example. I do not pretend to have the
answers to how to achieve a world of peace, justice, equality and environmental
sustainability. But through it all, I remain optimistic and continue to
struggle for a world in which the earth’s bounty will be shared by all its
citizens. To paraphrase Indian author Arundhati Roy: “Remember, we are many and
they are few. Another world is possible.
On a quiet day, if you listen carefully, you can hear her breathing.”
International Museum Day 2022: The Power of Museums (18/05/2022)
Notice of Change in Opening hours (20/04/2022)
Special offer in one and a half months (30/03/2022)
New Year geetings from The War Remnants Museum (31/12/2021)
New Opening Hours (effective from January 1, 2022) (29/12/2021)
Đoàn Đại biểu Đảng ủy, Hội đồng nhân dân, UBND Xã Đồng
Kỳ, Yên Thế, Bắc Giang tới thăm Bảo tàng Chứng tích Chiến tranh Sài Gòn. Những
chứng tích để lại cho em cháu, các thế hệ người con đất Việt, thật cảm động và
tự hào về sự hy sinh cao cả của cha anh vì độc lập, tự do cho dân tộc. Thật tự
Con là Tin 6 tuổi, con học được nhiều điều sau chuyến
tham quan. Con sẽ tự hào với dân tộc Việt Nam.
Con đã quay lại lần hai. Cảm xúc
vẫn như lúc ban đầu. Con cám ơn tất cả. Ông/Bà ngoại con cũng từng là những người
lính đấu tranh bảo vệ dân tộc. Con đến đây và hiểu nhiều hơn về sự hy sinh của
ông cha ta. Con cảm thấy biết ơn vì hiện tại được sống trong đất nước hòa bình.
Con sẽ cố gắng phấn đấu để góp một phần cho đất nước phát triển hơn nữa
Con thấy Việt Nam chúng ta rất đoàn kết, không chịu
thua một đất nước là Mỹ. Việt Nam con họ không hề bỏ nước, luôn luôn vươn lên
chiến đấu không ngừng, con rất quý mến họ và sẽ noi gương theo họ.
Hôm nay, tôi đã tham quan Bảo tàng Chứng tích Chiến
tranh. Tôi rất xúc động khi nhìn những bức ảnh – nhìn lại quá khứ kinh hoàng của
cả dân tộc. Tôi đã khóc khi nhìn những bức ảnh ấy. Biết
ơn vô cùng những người lính, những người chiến sĩ đã hy sinh thân mình cho nền
độc lập của Tổ quốc
Ngày 19/5/2022, nhân dịp kỉ niệm 132 năm ngày sinh
của Bác Hồ, tập thể 20CLC11 Khoa Công nghệ thông tin chương trình chất lượng
cao trường ĐH Khoa Học Tự Nhiên đã đến tham quan Bảo
tranh. Sau buổi tham quan, chúng em đã thấy được thiệt hại
nặng nề mà các cuộc chiến tranh để lại, đặc biệt là kháng chiến chống Mỹ 1954 - 1975
đã tước đi vô vàn sinh mạng của các chiến sĩ và nhân dân yêu nước. Chính vì thế, chúng em càng thấu hiểu được sự đau
khổ và tinh thần bất khuất, lòng yêu nước nồng nàn của đồng bào Việt Nam. Chúng
em sẽ cố gắng bảo vệ, gìn giữ bản sắc dân tộc và cùng xây dựng, phát triển đất
nước ta ngày một lớn mạnh hơn.
Very good museum! It really to help to
understand what really happened. Everything is much more real than expected.
I’m very happy to see that Vietnam War in another country. Một bảo tàng tuyệt vời!
Nơi đây thật sự hữu ích trong việc để hiểu những gì thật sự đã xảy ra. Tất cả mọi
thứ đều chân thực vượt quá sự trông đợi. Tôi rất hạnh phúc khi lại tham quan
Chiến tranh Việt Nam tại một quốc gia khác.
Can’t believe the Vietnam War lasted 17 years!
The amount of destruction cause unimaginable! Much love to Vietnamese people. Không thể tin Chiến
tranh Việt Nam kéo dài 17 năm. Tổng số thiệt hại thật không thể tưởng tượng được.
Gửi thật nhiều yêu thương cho người dân Việt Nam.
Là một giáo viên dạy Lịch sử, khi được tham quan
bảo tàng, bản thân nhận thấy rằng “phải trân quý hơn bao giờ hết “hòa bình – độc
lập – tự do”, càng biết ơn biết bao nhiêu sự hi sinh của biết bao thế hệ cha
ông đi trước. Hòa bình – Độc lập – Tự do ! Giữ gìn từng tấc đất. !
Những hình ảnh, dẫn chứng, di tích, hiện vật đã
làm sống lại một thời quá khứ đầy đau thương, mất mát nhưng vô cùng oanh liệt,
hào hùng ở trong tôi. Cầu chúc cho nước nhà, dân tộc ngày một vững mạnh, phồn
vinh. Thế hệ trẻ là những thế hệ làm nên đất nước của mai sau. Lịch sử vẫn sẽ sống
mãi, không nên bị lãng quên.
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