Thursday, April 12, 2012

America’s Debt to Vietnam
The Marines came ashore at Da Nang, on the central coast of Vietnam, on March 8, 1965. By the next year, the beachfront and the air base alongside had become a vast, ugly sprawl of tents, trucks, half-tracks, spare parts, fuel drums, helicopters, and airplanes. Old photographs depict a plain of expeditionary military engineering; the gravel-bedded, metal-roofed, fenced-in look anticipated eerily the American bases that today dot Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, the Da Nang airport opened a new international terminal. The building has soaring glass walls, digital clocks, a Burger King, and a Tommy Hilfiger store. When I visited the area last week, hammers clanked and machines roared along the nearby ocean, at construction sites for luxury hotels and tile-roofed golf villas facing what American soldiers once knew as China Beach. Hyatt is one of the recently arrived chains.

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