The Government Man

by James Murtaugh, May 22, 2002 | Destinations: Vietnam / Quang Tri

May 2000. We have a T.V. crew along with us. This means we will have a government official along with us. I don't like the idea. I think the Vietnamese people will not talk openly with us. But I am wrong! The people are open and honest with us. I don't like our government man right from the start. He has the look and feel of the men we fought from the north. He looks like an army man. He is on the cell phone a lot and does not smile. He never talks to me. Along with us is a man whose father was killed in the "AMERICAN" War. His dad was a helicopter pilot. In Quang Tri he wants to return to the place his father died to feel closer to him. At Con Thien he lays a wreath and puts some soil in a bag. It is very sad. We all have tears for the father and the son. As we hug the son, the Vietnamese with us circle the wreath with incense and light them. And they honor the father and son with buddhist prayers. We are all very touched. Later, at the hotel, I see the government man hugging the son in the lobby. Still later, in Hanoi, I hear the govenment man tell the son that whenever he is in Quang Tri he will light incense at the place where his father died. I wish I had told the government man that I was sorry that I thought ill of him. That he is a fine man, with a good heart. That if other Vietnamese people in his government are like him I will not worry about the future of his country. Also all governments need good people just like him. I would tell him of all the Vietnamese people that I have met that it is him that I will never forget!! Jim Murtaugh