Response to the movie Regret to Inform produced by Ms. Barbara Sonnerborn
Dear Mrs. Barbara Sonneborn,
I have viewed the film Regret to Inform introduced by Karen Quebe of Austin KLRU and am asked to give comments.
It touches my heart so much when I saw an American widow who had been traveling ten thousand miles to a remote jungle at the other end of the globe to visit the old battlefield where her loving man gave up his life for freedom of an allied country. It’s so sad seeing the old women who survived My Lai massacre. You are doing the right thing to record and bring up the images as a strong message to the humankind: Stop the War, Resolve Peacefully the Conflicts!
I would be glad to give my hands to your righteous cause, as I am myself a war victim.
But the more I have sympathy with you, the more my anger grows in my heart when I realize that the film involuntarily carries a deceptive propaganda for the communist Vietnam. You may not perceive that they are taking advantage to pass the blame of making war on our American and to convince that they are innocent in all what happened during 21 years of Vietnam War.
Please, be calm and read my own story that is not less pitiful than the stories of the subjects in the film.
My name is Michael Do, former Republic of Vietnam Air Force officer, former detainee in the so-called re-education camp in Vietnam from 1975-1985. I’m now elected President of the Vietnamese Veterans Association at Austin, Texas.
I grew up without knowing anything about my father. He was kidnapped by the Communist when I was one, and was imprisoned in Thanh Hoa “Ly Ba So” camp until the Geneva Agreement was implemented in 1954. According to the agreement signed by French and Communist Vietnam, the country is divided into two parts with opposing regimes, French and Communist withdraw their troops to the South and North of 17th parallel respectively, and all prisoners must be released. My mother and I were waiting for the beloved one to return. But he never made it. He was ambushed and murdered on the way back home after 8 years of hard labor and torturing in the camp. Poor daddy, his only crime is being born in a wealthy family; one of the four categories Communists hates most: well-educated, wealthy, landowner, and government officials. To these persons, their policy is to “Dao Tan Goc, Troc Tan Ngon”. That means “dig them up to the root; chop them down from the tip”
My childhood is not a happy one, although my mom devotes her life to bring me up in the best conditions she could afford. One night when I was 5, Communist shelled the district market. Two mortars hit my home killing one and wounded two. We were luckily unharmed as we were sleeping in the basement.
The years after 1954, South Vietnam was gradually establishing its democracy with American assistance. It was a short peaceful time, and people were building their new life. There were no foreign troops except for some American personnel worked in the assistance group. It is OK when a big country helps allied countries in the Free World to develop; it’s OK too as the Russia and China help to build communism in North Vietnam provided that each side minds its own business.
Of course, we don’t expect South Vietnamese government to be perfect in its transition from feudalism to republic. It must have weaknesses to be corrected through democratic processes. North Vietnam did not let us be safe. Thousands of communist cadres left behind after 1954 began to emerge in remote countryside where secret guerilla bases formerly built. They planted the seed of hate in the heart of villagers. Whoever can carry weapon is armed. Supply from the North began to pour into South via Ho Chi Minh trail. In December 1960, the 3rd Communist Party congress formed the so-called “South Vietnam National Liberation Front” and started the war.
Terrorism spread out all over the country. At night, they kidnapped and assassinated; in daytime, they shelled school, market. Not a single day did we not hear the killing. Hundreds of school children at Song Phu and Cai Lay were killed in 1964 when the schools were targeted by cannon balls. Three thousand civilians buried alive in old capital Hue in 1968. They beheaded, peeled off the face skin, drowned alive in rice bag; they used whatever means to scare people to not cooperate with the government. There are many more that can be written in thousands of pages.
We have no choice but bearing arm to fight against them.
Given the mask “anti-American” by Communists, such war is truly between the Communists and the freedom lovers. We understand freedom, democracy, and human rights only exist in a non-communist regime. We, not the Communists, are peace loving because we were working hard for development; we did not want the war to destroy our achievement.
In 1965, American and six other allied nations sent troops to help us as the war was escalating. Divisions of North Vietnamese regular troops with unlimited supplies from Soviet Union and China were outnumbered our army, forcing us back to defensive.
That’s why your husband, as other hundreds of thousands American young men and women, get involved in a bloody, long lasting war that they were not prepared for.
My story is more distressed as the war ended in 1975. I don’t think you are patient enough to listen me telling what happened to hundreds of thousands of South Vietnam officers and civilian officials. Let’s go back to the contents of the film.
There are some critical points need to make clear:
1.- An American widow in the film poses a question: Did those people (Communist Vietnam) do any threat to our country? Did they (American troops) murder them?
I would ask her back. Why did we get involved in Korean War, WW1, WW2, Gulf War, Somalia, Yugoslavia war? Did those Korean, German, Iraqi, Somalian, Serbian do any harm to the United Stated?
The killing of innocent people is totally wrong, but inevitable in any war. Trapped in the battlefield, people are victimized by both sides. There are crazy people who kill for no reason in any society, civilized or uncivilized. They are criminals and must be brought to justice. The facts that Lieutenant William Calley who massacred villagers in My Lai, the killing of hundreds of Koreans recently uncovered, and many more I can not locate, are unforgivable. They spoil our right cause, but can not be assimilated to the whole policy. In contrary, the murder committed by the communists is not only individual act but also systematically organized by the party. That is the different between the two ideologies. The reason we don’t carry out the killing because we don’t hate; we just fight for our freedom. We believe in God and respect human life. The reason communists kill because they advocate “the cause justifies the means”.
2.- The North Vietnamese widow, Dr. Nguyen Thi My Hien, as well as about two hundred thousand South Vietnamese mothers and wives, are victims of the war that initiated by the communists, not by our side. The other woman in the film (the skinny who is introduced Vietcong leader) should not complain because she herself had chosen to fight as a Vietcong guerilla. Indeed, she was a spy, a terrorist, and she must accept what happened to her in the war. Nguyen Xuan Ngoc, your companion, grows up in the communist controlled area, eye witnessed the burning, killing. Her voice transports peak of hate. I have sympathy for her. But that selfish whore does not represent widows of South Vietnam KIA’s.
3.- That American failed the war after 21 years of involvement doesn’t mean we did wrong. Mass media in the 60’s, with support from traitors Jane Fonda, Angela David, Ted Turner … spoiled the information, misled the public opinion that resulted the withdrawal of American troops. While WW2 veterans returned home as heroes, Vietnam veterans as murderers!!!???
They should be given back dignity they deserve. The dead must be honored. The KIA and MIA’s families must be remembered.
4. Do you believe that we are justified when leading the free world fighting against Soviet Union and its satellites: China, Cuba, and Eastern Europe? Why not justified when fighting against Communist Vietnam? Is Vietnam an exception in the ideological war? Do our people not deserve the freedom that American is enjoying?
5. It is a very good idea to heal the wound many American families have been suffering. Fifty eight thousand American young men and women were killed in Vietnam while fighting for FREEDOM not only to my Vietnamese people, but also to noble cause saving the humankind from the horrific Communism. As we have played the vanguard role in preaching freedom and democracy, we should be very proud of what we did in Vietnam.
6. When you traveled to Vietnam to make the film, do you realize that the only persons you can talk with, and who can speak out are those selected by he authorities? Indeed, most of them are party members. If you have time to study the annual report on human rights violation in Vietnam by the Department of State and dozens of Human rights advocate organizations, please, do so. In such regime where there is no freedom of speech, the mass media is in the hand of authorities. People are to speak in one voice to promote the party’s resolution.
7.- Why the words American Pirates are removed when translating a woman saying: “The cruelty by American pirates (Toi ac cua Giac My, sic) is longer than a river, higher than a mountain, and deeper than a sea”? Are you not ashamed hearing that accusation? If your purpose is to heal the wound, the film doesn’t. It points a sharp knife into the wound of our veterans and makes it more painful.
8. When you consider two sides of the conflict, I’m wondering why the South Vietnam side is not in your concern. Millions of South Vietnamese people were killed during the bloodiest, long lasting war mostly by the acts of North Vietnam army. More than two hundred thousand South Vietnamese troops killed in action while serving side-by-side American soldiers. Hundreds of thousands risk their lives fleeing Vietnam after 1975 to seek for freedom, of which tens of thousands drowned in the sea or raped killed by pirates. We are victimized twice by the Communists.
We, of course, feel sorry for the families of North Vietnam soldiers who died in the war; because themselves, are also victims of the ambitious Communist party members. South Vietnamese women have heart and soul too. They do suffer not only the loss of their husbands and sons, but discrimination under communist regime as well. They need to speak out their own voice.
We are asking for justice and humanity.
Dear Mrs. Sonneborn,
The Vietnamese American community though powerless in this new land, but is positively contributing to the diversity of American society. More than one million of us here in this country strongly suggest that the mass media should reflect the truth about Vietnam War. The loosing side is not always the wrong. Seventy years after the October Revolution, the Russian nationalist flag is flying back on Kremlin. Please, wait and see what happens next in Saigon.
I’d be very glad to cooperate in your project if you consider my comment seriously.
Our hearts are with you and other widows.