30 Years Later

by James Murtaugh, May 8, 2005 | Destinations: Vietnam / Da Nang

April 2005

I wanted to take my wife to see Marble Mountain, just south of Danang.So my wife and I along with two U.S. Army war veterans rented a cab to take us there.

The Mountain is still very beautiful and we enjoyed the view from the top. Now,it was time to walk down the many marble steps to the bottom. I know the girls will be waiting for us to sell marble trinkets.

But,reaching the bottom, something else stops us in our tracks.Another small group of tourists waits while their leader buys tickets to the mountain. They are vietnamese war veterans. Some wear parts of uniforms and all wear military medals.

When they see us watching them, one vietnamese veteran walked over to me and said "American"? I nodded my head "yes". He then shook my hand with the grip of a much younger man and I tried to return it. Soon, we were all shaking hands and taking pictures of each other.

All of us had in common that we were survivors. We were lucky men. We were allowed to marry, have children and grandchildren. We have been allowed to grow old having seen the horror of war. It is kind of a brotherhood that non-veterans would have trouble understanding.

Our new friends were most likely are from the north and are seeing the south for the first time in thirty years. They are on their way to HCMC (Saigon) for the anniversary of the end of the war (April 30, 2005).

Chance meetings like this are good for both american and vietnamese war veterans. We can see and touch each other as just fellow human beings. It is a way for us to leave war behind us. After all we do not have the power to change the past.

As young men we could have never dreamed that a meeting like this would ever take place. Sometimes the world does become a better place after all.

Jim Murtaugh

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