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Former US Defense Secretary shared memories of Vietnam throughout his life

12:19 | 12/10/2020

45 years after the war and 25 years of normalizing the Vietnam-US relationship, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former US Secretary of State John Kerry shared their memories about Vietnam.

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No big decision without careful consideration during the period in Vietnam

Answering Vietnamet's question about their thought every time visiting Vietnam to complete their peace-building mission, taking into account Vietnam and the USA has experienced a traumatic past, Mr. Chuck Hagel, former Secretary of Defense, said he thought anyone who had involved in the war is affected forever. He shared that he himself and his brother served in the Vietnam battlefield in 1968, which later resulted in every decision that he made during his position as Secretary of Defense. He said he was haunted forever by the memories of fighting in Vietnam.

Mr. John Kerry said that he had visited Vietnam multiple times as Senator, in order to address the issue of POW/MIA. Once in a working visit, he met a man who used to fight for the other side of his front line. It was unbelievable for him that they, who used to be enemies, could then standing on their old battle, talking to each other with no enmity. From his personal experience, Kerry shared his pride as he has also put effort in helping the two countries to end the war, reconnect their relations and get closer as friends and partners.

former us defense secretary shared memories of vietnam throughout his life
Mr. Hagel and his brother in Vietnam in 1968. (Photo: NYT)

The US invasion was based on lack of information about Vietnam

When being asked about his strong support towards the US-Vietnam normalization of relations, Mr. John Kerry said the US participation in the war was based entirely on lies, misunderstandings, and lack of comprehension about the country and people of Vietnam. On his visit to Vietnam, he found that not everything that was said about the country was correct. He saw a Vietnam that had to bear colonial domination for decades, a Vietnam that fiercely fight for its own independence and freedom. The Americans got themselves into a war, followed by a series of terrible consequences that the American soldiers, the Americans and the Vietnamese people suffered.

It's been 25 years since the two countries normalized relations. This process starts off difficultly due to doubts, suspicions, forcing the two countries to step by step rebuild their trust in each other. Vietnam's leaders have a wonderful vision of the bilateral relations. Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach, President Le Duc Anh, and Deputy Foreign Minister Le Mai made great efforts in building and consolidating trust between the two countries. US President George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton both contributed to the normalization process.

former us defense secretary shared memories of vietnam throughout his life
Mr. John Kerry in a visit to Mekong Delta. (Photo: US Department of State)

The people who "break the ice" in bilateral relations

In the interview, Mr. John Kerry applauded the effort and goodwill of different people in the process of relations normalization, especially in coming up with "an initiative that can be said to be the most important, the biggest, the most profound and thorough in the history of war of mankind" to deal with the consequences of war.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hagel highly appreciated the US leaders and soldiers in acknowledging the mistakes that they had made. As a Secretary of Defense, he has contributed to the economic, commercial, diplomatic and security stability of the Asia-Pacific regions. He rememorized his meeting with the Vietnam Ministry of Defense and his wife, which only lasted for 2 days while he and his counterpart had to come up with solutions to promote comprehensive cooperation between the two countries. He emphasized his hope that Vietnam and the USA can work together to both become better countries, as well as making this world a better place.

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