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Posts tagged ‘Cu Chi Tunnels.’

The Legacy of the Cu Chi Tunnels.

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In 1948, the people in the Cu Chi district -the Viet Minh, start to build a vast network of interconnecting tunnels to help the poorly equipped peasant army against French imperialism.

These tunnels keep gorilla resistance fighters safe and hidden under the ground.

In 1968 the tunnels – competed by the Viet Cong (V.C), consists of thousands underground pathways link meeting rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and field hospitals to one another.

Like an underground village, all needs are met,  including and manufacturing black durable cotton uniforms and sandals made from rubber.

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Photos: black durable cotton uniforms and scarf and  sandals being  made from rubber. 

Each tunnel is several stories deep with deep ventilation units hidden from view.

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Photos: Air vents into tunnels

The tunnels and the people in them, are protected, by countess trapdoors.

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Photos: trapdoors around tunnels

These trapdoors of ingenious designs capture and kill those who step upon them.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s  the war – known locally as the American war, is at its peak.

The tunnels allow the Viet Cong, (V.C) to control the rural area less than 50 km from the capital of The Republic of Vietnam- Saigon, in the south and the Cambodian border, on the east.

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Photo: Figures representing V.C  gorilla fighters, during 1960- 1975  American War.

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 Note to self

Paul bless him, almost got stuck in one of the tunnels. I know because it was me who took the photo!

Guess he is a lot bigger than typical The Viet Cong!

While I hate war, I do admire the brave Viet Minh and VC people who lived, worked and fought here. The designs of the tunnels, built on many levels, are ingenious. Take the kitchens for example, the smoke from the cooking stoves, travels by a series of vents opening into a clearing, several feet away from the tunnel, thus making it impossible to locate the source of the fire from the air.

 

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Photo : Cooking underground in Cu Chi tunnels. The location of smoke from cooking is several feet away from the tunnel. It is bearly visable under the leaves

 Is that clever or what!!

A Sad note to self

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when the American War was raging in throughout Vietnam, Northern Ireland is experiencing what is known locally as ‘The Troubles’.

At that time, I am a child living with my family in Limavady Road, just outside the city of Derry/ Londonderry in Northern Ireland. The British base is right behind our house and the American Base is just across the road. It is dangerous. We are Catholics living in a Protestant area. I know nothing of this danger. My parents can afford to send me and my brother to boarding schools in Sligo. My older brothers and sisters are in University in Dublin.

But what if in the 1970’s I am not Irish but American? My brother and I will still go  school. But, University is very expensive in America. Perhaps, my father cannot afford to send both my two brothers and sister. My older brothers are 19 and 22 years old. I wonder what fate awaits them  if they  choose not to go to college. Will their names be put in a lottery? Will one or both of them  be sent against their will, to a foreign, hot, humid country? Will they  fight in a war that they  do not understand? Who will they  kill? A mother? A Father? A child? Will they  stand on a trap door and be skewered alive in a shallow grave or worse? 

Words fail me as I climb out of these Cu Chi tunnels.

I force myself back into the present.

 It is 2015.

I am a tourist again.

We are traveling towards the next leg of our journey the magnificently beautiful  Mekong Delta.

In Ho Chi Minh City, we also visited the Reunification Palace and War Remnants museum

In Ho Chi Minh City, we visit the Old Saigon Post Office and The Norte Dame Cathedral. It is fantastic. We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

We are on holidays.

We are tourists.

Then we visit Reunification palace with its fabulous luxury, recent past and its role in the American /Vietnam War.

It is still Ok. Life goes on.

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Then God helps us, we spend many hours in the war memorial museum.

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It is one the most harrowing experience I ever felt.

All I can say is that Auschwitz paled in comparison in demonstrating the capacity we have as humans, to be cruel.

A poem I wrote several years ago and Blogged earlier in the year comes to mind.

I call it war and it goes like this:

WAR

Peace be with you.

My peace I give you and all around the bombs abound.

Scattered bodies lie everywhere,

Broken, their spirits spent.

Mother’s son’s squandered youth, lies wasting in earth’s weed.

And what of life?

This gift pawned for another’s mans greed.

We sit like zombies, eyes fixed on synthetic screen.

Like maggots, we play with decay.

Barren ground splattered with oil and blood.

O peace where is Your army?

Help us in our time of need.

 

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Next, we are traveling to the Cu Chi Tunnels.

I dare not complain.

I will share my experiences with you in the next post.

 

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