To remember the days of war

We have come to you this afternoon

Our old battlefield still here.

Yet how do we find your graves

Now hidden by 30 years of growth.

In your youth like the leaves so green

Your blood soaks the earth red

For today’s forest to grow.

Words cannot describe how we miss you

Our fingers trace the bark for clues of days past.

We imagine you resting for a thousand peaceful autumns

Feeling the loss of each of you.

We come to rejoin a span of bridge

For the happiness of those living.

On a calm autumn afternoon in Ia Drang

Veterans join hands.

After 30 years we relive that battle

Between two sides of the frontline.

Now we stand at each other’s side

Remembering generals and soldiers of years past

Bring back the months and years of history

Untroubled by ancient rifts

We look together toward the future

Hoping that generations to come will remember.

Our people know love and bravery

We leave old hate for new friendships.

Together we will live in peace

So that this land will remain ever green

Forever in peace and harmony.

– A poem composed by NVA veteran Col.Tran Minh Hao upon meeting American veteran Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore in Vietnam, as translated in We are Soldiers Still

Veterans join hands: A poem

Poem, Poetry, Veterans, Vietnam

Speaking at the National Veterans Art Museum

Art, Talks, Veterans, Vietnam
I tell the story of one veteran who has returned in my talk at the National Veteran Art Museum on August 2. (Photo by Mike Rhee)

Me telling the story of one veteran who has returned to Vietnam in my talk at the National Veterans Art Museum on August 2. (Photo by Mike Rhee)

Vietnam War veteran Don Blackburn reads from his book of poetry "All You Have Given: Meditations on War, Peace and Reconciliation." (Photo by Mike Rhee)

Vietnam War veteran Don Blackburn reads from his book of poetry “All You Have Given: Meditations on War, Peace and Reconciliation.” (Photo by Mike Rhee)

We had a great turnout for “Back to the Battlefield” at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago on Saturday. I opened the event with a presentation about the Vietnam War veterans who are living in Vietnam today and talked a little about the impact of unexploded ordnance on the country. Then, veteran Don Blackburn spoke about his life in Nha Trang, Vietnam and read selections from his books of poetry and essays.

The audience was enthusiastic and asked some great questions about the impact of Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance on Vietnamese people and how returning to Vietnam affects a veteran’s mental health.

Chicago Public Radio interview

Poetry, Press Coverage, Vietnam

WBEZ screenshot

I was on Chicago Public Radio’s “Worldview” program this past Friday to discuss my research on veterans. American veteran Don Blackburn joined me on air to talk about his own experiences returning to Vietnam and to read some of his poetry. You can listen to and download the audio from the show here.