Overseas Vietnamese’s stories of national reconciliation

Saturday, 2015-04-25 07:06:33
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Nguyen Ngoc Lap (right) does handshake and thanks a soldier on Son Ca island. (Credit: thanhnien.com.vn)
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NDO – Four decades since the war against American imperialism ended, despite living in different circumstances, overseas Vietnamese (OV) share the love for their motherland, considering their origin the root of national reconciliation.

In his small home in Glecoe Road, Orange County, California, Nguyen Ngoc Lap, a former lieutenant of the Republic of Vietnam Marine Division, showed reporters from the Voice of Vietnam colourful shells he brought home from his 2014 visit to Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago. His memories came rushing back in his emotional voice.

Lap said that nobody could understand his cries during the trip, especially when he flew from Chinese Taipei to the motherland.

“Two people sitting next to me thought that I had gone mad. I did not know why I cried as I cannot tell you how much I love my motherland”, Lap said.

Nguyen Ngoc Lap

Listening to his heart-felt story, few people imagine that he used to be an anti-communist with dissident views. He was rarely absent from marches or demonstrations in the US against the Communist Party of Vietnam. But after many years, he recognised that it was time for him to change.

He said that the nation was above all and recognising himself as the enemy was the most difficult thing, forcing him to reconcile with himself.

Vu Chung, a journalist working in Little Saigon, Orange County, said that misunderstandings and tensions between OVs in the US and the motherland have eased.

Compared to 20 years ago, OVs, particularly those who have returned to the motherland, understand the country’s changes better, Chung said.

He believes that with time, the understanding will grow thanks to meetings between OVs and people in the motherland on tours, business trips and during visits to relatives. Such meetings will make a positive impact on the nation.

As a former Lieutenant of the the Republic of Vietnam’s Army, Chung spent five years going through reeducation, but he felt no hatred for this period and felt that the reeducation helped him maturer.

Chung said that overcoming misunderstandings in the past and the present requires time and faith.

There will always be some who have unintentional misunderstandings ─ the Vietnamese government should help OVs to learn more about Vietnam’s institutions and policies, Chung said.

Exchanges and contacts between younger generations inside and outside the country will be a catalyst for national reconciliation, Chung added.

Vu Chung

Sharing Chung’s ideas, Lap said that the lack of dialogue has hindered national reconciliation.

‘Le Duan (late Party General Secretary) stated that there was no victory between the north and the south, just Vietnam’s victory against the US. We have the same mothertongue, why don’t we talk in order to reconcile. The lack of dialogue make us unable to come together’, Lap said.

Settled in the US for long like Chung and Lap, engineer Le Thanh Du was luckier, having gone to the US to study in 1972 after graduating high school thanks to his relative’s high-ranking post in the Republic of Vietnam’s Government. Du said that the two former enemies (Vietnam and the US) have shaken hands with each other, thus reconciliation among Vietnamese is certain if they look at their shared history.