Being old and ancient, we were teenagers during the Vietnam war. Today we visited the main areas involved in the conflict in the DMZ ( Demilitarised Zone). Our guide was a child and then teenager during the conflict. He was in the South living in a village near the main waterway joining North and South. His own village was destroyed and his family moved to a neighbouring village. When this too was occupied and then bombed,they moved into a camp set up by the USA forces. During the conflict,his family still went to their fields each day to plant,tend or harvest. On one occasion he was buzzed by a helicopter and another saw soldiers returning from reconnaissance . He said there was no animosity to the foreign forces but they could not win.The museum reflects only one side of the story. In this story the South and their allies were for ever afraid.
Vietnamese culture means that village communities are close knit. If someone was killed, because of this connection,many felt obligated to join the Vietcong and the conflict. As they knew the geography of the land, had already developed skills as guerrillas in past conflicts and had strong family ties; the Vietcong were in a superior position in any battle.
Most villagers moved South when the conflict became too difficult. One village near the ocean, dug tunnels. They lived for two years underground in a system which had many levels. Children were born, wounded treated and lives lived in the new normal.
When the peace settlement with the French in 1954 occurred, people were given a choice of north or south. The country was divided on the 17th parallel. The North was blue, the South yellow,. This was painted on a bridge. Reunion for some families was not possible for 21 years.