|From left: Genie Plamondon, Nancy Kurshan, and Judy Gumbo Albert in Viet Nam, 1970.|
Visiting Viet Nam, 1970-2013
Everywhere we traveled we were warmly welcomed. The Vietnamese still feel grateful to the U.S. peace movement. I came to understand that while my trip in 1970 was life changing, this trip was life affirming.By Judy Gumbo Albert / The Rag Blog / February 28, 2013
Rag Blog contributor Judy Gumbo Albert was an original member of the Youth International Party (YIPPIES), founded in 1967. See Jonah Raskin's April 17, 2012, interview with Judy Gumbo Albert in The Rag Blog -- and see Raskin's current Rag Blog interview with Nancy Kurshan, a prison activist and fellow Yippie founder who recently traveled with Judy to Viet Nam. Judy Gumbo Albert and Nancy Kurshan will be Thorne Dreyer's guests on Rag Radio, Friday, April 12, 2013, from 2-3 p.m., on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin, and streamed live on the Internet -- so mark your calendars!In 1970, during the American War, I visited what was then North Viet Nam. It was a Yippie trip. I’m the one on the right above. Next to me is Nancy Kurshan, next to her is Genie Plamondon of the White Panther Party. This year I returned to Viet Nam. What follows are some of my impressions.
In Ha Noi and the surrounding countryside, I photographed the devastation wrought by the war:
|CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.|
And felt inspired by Viet Nam’s resistance fighters:
Forty years later, in January 2013, Nancy and I were invited back as part of a delegation of activists who had visited Viet Nam during the war. We were there to help celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords:
I met former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and filmmaker Jay Craven:
And my favorite hero of all time, Mme. Nguyen Thi Binh, a member of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Viet Nam, a leader of the Viet Nam Women’s movement, and a negotiator and signer of the Paris Peace Accords. I told her, "Thank you for what you have done." She replied, “We will continue to do it," and squeezed my hand:
Everywhere we traveled we were warmly welcomed. The Vietnamese still feel grateful to the U.S. peace movement. I came to understand that while my trip in 1970 was life changing, this trip was life affirming.
At the same time, it was apparent that the outcomes of the American war continue to devastate the country.
With unexploded ordnance
that to this day kills and maims:
Agent Orange/dioxin, has remained in the soil and water of Viet Nam for 40 years, poisoning a third and fourth generation of children:
I was heartbroken when I met these kids. All I could think was, “We are responsible.”
Nor could I ignore the remnants of Diem and Thieu’s tiger cages:
Survivors of the tiger cages have managed to make a new life for themselves. “In order to close the past, we must be open to the future,” is what I heard them say. (The older woman in the center was imprisoned in a tiger cage for 15 years.)
Today Viet Nam integrates the new with the old. They are on the road to prosperity by means of what they call a “socialist-oriented market economy.”
I came home from Viet Nam understanding that every one of us can -- and should -- feel proud of what we did and continue to do to end all wars.
© Judy Gumbo Albert. See more of Judy's photos here.
Thanks to The Rag Blog's James Retherford for assistance with graphics on this article.
[Judy Gumbo Albert is an original Yippie, along with Abbie and Anita Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Nancy Kurshan, Paul Krassner, and Judy’s late husband Stew Albert. Judy has remarried, lives in Berkeley, California, and is currently writing her memoir, Yippie Girl. She can be found at www.yippiegirl.com. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Judy Gumbo Albert or Yippie Girl. Read more articles by Judy Gumbo Albert on The Rag Blog.]
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