Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Vietnam War and Agent Orange are millennials’ problem too

The Vietnam war, also known as the Second Indochina War, took place in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos from November 1 1955 to April 30 1975.  If you were born in the 1980s, or later, your understanding of the Vietnam War may be relegated to your school history books, a classic film like Apocalypse Now, or simply something you hear those who grew up in the 1950s-1970s refer to with complex emotions. If you're what is considered a millennial, like myself, Vietnam can be seen as a country the United States went to war with, lost to (although your United States history book may not frame it this way), and seemingly no longer has relations or ties with.
Nothing could be further from the truth. For just as the pasts of Vietnam and the United States are greatly intertwined, so is the present moment for both countries, and undoubtedly their future for a variety of reasons.
One thing that binds the two countries is the haunting legacy and continued ramifications of the effects of Agent Orange. The effect this tragedy has had on the people of Vietnam, and also the people of the United States, is not something that is over and done with.  Rather, it should be seen as an ongoing struggle, as activists fight for full recognition of its atrocities, and for the United States to acknowledge its true responsibility in the matter. It is a fight that many young people should know about, but unfortunately do not. After a 10 day trip to Vietnam, and a meeting with the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange, it was made clear to this millennial that more people of my generation need to be made aware of this haunting history and the continuing struggle.

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