If you have only two chopsticks they will be easy to break, but if you have a whole bundle they are not so easily broken. -Vietnamese saying
The great spirit of Ho Chi Minh lives throughout Vietnam and in the hearts of all revolutionary peoples on the planet. He is truly the symbol of unity. There is a story we were told by the Vietnamese of the last few minutes in his life. Ho was lying on his bed, too weak to move or speak, and the leading members of the Central Committee gathered around his bed to be with him during his last minutes- he kept looking from face to face, as if waiting for something-slowly they all put their arms around each other and held hands. Ho looked, smiled, and closed his eyes- he knew that they were promising unity and his vision of a reunified Vietnam will become a reality no matter what the hardships, no matter how long we have to struggle. For the Vietnamese are one people, and they are strong, infinitely patient, and determined to win their liberation.
JUNE 14. Leaving Vietnam was like being torn from a lover or something, really- l'm in love. I've never been to a country or even a town where I immediately feel in love with EVERYbody I met or came in contact with. It's so incredible. It's a whole country of people in love- with life, with each other, and awesomely in love with young American revolutionaries. As much as we would tell them what an inspiration they are for us, they would always come back stronger telling us what an inspiration we are for them, and they mean it.
It blew me out how every single place we went people came out in droves to greet us- sometimes a whole village would hear we were there and would line the streets to wave at us and laugh. They always laugh alot, and sing. Every place we went there were always people to sing for us. And everything together- no separation. Their culture and lifestyle is all integrated with their politics and fighting- they have successfully brought together the purity and simplicity of their ancient culture with the demands of a revolution and a war of destruction put on them by the US imperialists and their puppets.
We went way back in the mountains to visit the Vietnamese mountain people- the Thai. We had to cross rivers, many of them. At one point we were sitting on a bamboo raft being pulled across by four young Vietnamese, swimming. Then sitting in a beautiful bamboo house raised above the ground about ten feet on stilts, sitting there with those beautiful pure peasants drinking coconut milk, smoking Thuoc Lao, and a 67-year old woman comes in from working in the rice paddies, sits down, and begins singing a song to us, which turns out to be about the misery of life before the revolution when the landlords and French colonialists were so cruel, and how the revolution changed everything so- they reconverted the French landing strip into a rice paddy- and she continues to sing about how we must be strong and determined to win this war against the US and reunite our country.
A 67-year old woman, so tiny- and every once in a while someone walks through with a rifle on his/her back, not to frighten anybody, but because they are always ready, always ready to defend their land, their homes and families from whatever aggressor might appear. They're very small people, and extremely poor in terms of standard technology, but you could never imagine the spirit all the people of Vietnam have in their hearts- it's just too incredible. All that shit we're told about the North and the South being divided- Vietnam is one country, it's so incredibly united. Nixon just keeps on sticking his boot in deeper and deeper into his ASS-what a fucking monster his government is, and those little people are going to whoop Nixon 's ass with his own boot! Dig it: Nixon, Laird, Mitchell and those punks got this great plan called "Vietnamization" of the war. It's supposed to mean total withdrawal of US troops, leaving the puppet troops there, showing everybody that's what the people of Vietnam want- to be a colony of the US. Vietnamization has three parts to it -- 1) Withdrawal of US troops, 2) Consolidation of puppet troops and puppet government, and 3) Intensification of the pacification program.
Number one depends on number two and number two depends on number three- because in order to withdraw US troops you must leave behind strong puppet troops and a strong puppet government, and in order to have strong puppet troops and government, the people - the PEOPLE-have to believe in their ruse, or else they'll get rid of them. So it's the pacification program that is most important at this point, and Nixon's strategy, of course, is to intensify the pacification program.
Dig the tactics he uses n the "pacification" program- he divides the south into two zones, the cities and the countryside and proceeds to drive all the people by any means necessary into the cities. The countryside becomes like a free shooting zone, toxic chemicals are sprayed all over, and people are taken from their land and herded into "strategic hamlets" which are a bunch of shacks surrounded by barbed wire and troops. And why is he doing this? Because the people in the countryside, the peasants, the majority of the people, work hand in hand with the National Liberation Front- the dirty commie bastards we hear about.
They hide and feed and take care of the Viet Cong, and they hide and feed and take care of American deserters. Nixon wants to win over the people of Vietnam, but he thinks he can do it by getting them to believe what they read in the papers instead of what they see right in front of them. It's impossible for Nixon to win the war, because he's fighting an unjust war against the people. The people are truly a pond, and the liberation forces are the fish who swim freely in the pond- Nixon wants to dry up the pond to get at the fish.
It amazes me how together the people of Vietnam are. They have a history of literally 4,000 years of struggle for their liberation and it has made them some of the most together people on the planet- they are wholly committed and determined to win, and they KNOW they can do it because they're going to fight until they win- period. And that's ALL the people. The level of understanding of the people is incredible.
Most of the two weeks we were in Vietnam we spent in Hanoi meeting with various people from many different organizations, but we also got the chance to spend four or five days in the countryside. It was so far three American women and six Vietnamese from the Committee of Solidarity with American People, and our Vietnamese driver in a bus about half the size of a school bus driving around the countryside of North Vietnam- we really became a family.
And everywhere we went the people loved us- from the tiny children to the ancient peasants in the mountains to the high school kids and their parents. Vietnam is really poor, but there are schools in every village now and the people are so close- working together, living through so much struggle together- they all understood so much about what's going on here in the belly of the beast, in AmeriKKKa. And they really love us young people in America because they know we understand and that we're fighting the same enemy and have the same struggle, and that we're the future of our Nation, and the future of Vietnam, and the future of the world. Youth make revolution- and this was the first time that young American freekrevolutionaries had come to Vietnam- they loved us so much!
The following is what I wrote in my journal while there on the 27th of May, our first day into the countryside:
This morning we made it up at 5:30 a.m. and were finally on the road by 7:00. I really wish there would have been a way to write on the way, but it's so bouncy-we were in a bus twice the size of a family van, just big enough. I think there are ten of us and we rode on Highway 1, taking all the necessary detours because it has been bombed so many times, going on wooden bridges in new locations from the steel ones that are half there. We went over the Ham Rong Bridge-it has had 6000 TONS of bombs dropped on it trying to destroy it, and some 90 US planes trying to destroy it have been downed- a truly holy bridge. On either side are mountains, Dragon Eyes and the BuII, which are now about half the size they were before the bombs. This province, Thanh Hoa, has been bombed incredibly, and it's very very obvious. They build grass, bamboo and clay huts around the bombed buildings-but the buildings are still there to see. This whole province has been bombed so many times, the ground is pock-marked- they have smoothed over a lot for growing their crops and grass or whatever grows over the craters, but it's very obvious the whole province and every village in it was totally destroyed. There are a lot of churches, pagodas, temples, schools, and hospitals which have been totally bombed out to ruins.
We went through another area, a strip of land that went across from one bridge to the next which they called No Man 's Land. During the French occupation the French totally destroyed everything on the land and put mines and barbed wire everywhere- north of that was occupied and south of that was liberated. Lu talked about being in the mountains and then coming out on the plains and how far out it was to be able to see so far. And Phan explained the difference between the militia and the guerrillas- militia are defensive, in times of no attack they work on construction and production and they fight to defend when being attacked- women join the militia more because of family duties. Guerrillas are offensive- they go and seek out the enemy. There are both, of course, in the North and South- plus the regular army (which wear green uniforms).
There is just so much to write about, I can 't remember it all right now and won't be able to write very easily tonite because there's no electricity. It's amazing how hard everyone here works-everyone-little kids out in the rice fields, old women carrying heavy loads. And many many young women working on repairing the roads-this is such an underdeveloped country, but they work hard with the few materials they have. It's incredibly hot, too, and we have no ceiling fans so we use our straw Vietnamese hats as they do-living with this heat is a whole way of life; the Vietnamese do it very well. There's a poster, a Russian poster of Lenin on the wall. We should sleep now, they know what's best and I hardly slept yesterday or last night. Straw beds and straw pillows. Heat.
And then the following, written the morning of May 28:
We got up at 6:00 this morning and had breakfast-and now we sit around talking to wait for people from the Fatherland Front to come and take us around. Already it's very very hot and on the other side of the pond people have been working in the fields since before we got up. The Vietnamese understand so well that they have to raise the consciousness of the peasants to socialism. Oahn emphasized the need to experiment first any policy they decide on in a small representative area, even if they are certain it is correct. So with socialism they experiment with trying to collectivize the farms. And emphasize doing every thing step by step. First they understand that the peasants have lived on their land for many generations and love it very much-shown in the fact that even during the War of Destruction by the US the peasants stayed on their land to fight. So the first step is to form mutual aid collectives where they help each other. (There is a small garden in front of me with tiny red flowers that were closed and have slowly opened while I've been sitting here-I asked and they're called 10 o'clock flowers, very beautiful, like tiny red roses.) It's so
(See page 25)
From page 15
beautiful right here where we are-to the east a couple of miles is the ocean, the Gulf of Tonkin, where the Seventh Fleet moves to bomb from- shelling from the ships, and the planes take off from the ships to bomb. Even now they say the Seventh Fleet stays close by and you can see it every once in a while. We'll be going to the beach to swim in the Gulf of Tonkin today and maybe we'll see it. I really hope we can go even further south, but we would have to get the OK from the next province checkpoint about the military situation, and I guess we haven't because we're still here. Sometimes it sounds like artillery fire to the south.
I found out later that the 10 o'clock flowers are dedicated to Ho now because that's about when he died and that's when the flowers open.
The spirit of Uncle Ho is everywhere- unity. Vietnam is surely a whole new level in the history of civilization. There are so many stories I have to tell- like visiting a factory built inside a mountain where all these young people, men and women, work together, sing together and fight together and are ready to fight together again if necessary.
They sang to us and told how they had learned to sing together during the War of Destruction so the sounds of their songs would drown out the sounds of the bombs, and now they sing while they work, making machine parts to help their country. And always the spirit of Uncle Ho, and the many stories about him. We went to a first grade school where Uncle Ho had visited once TWELVE YEARS AGO and they were still excited about it! They had pictures of him everywhere. Even way back in the mountains there were pictures of Ho in every house. I wrote on May 30:
Up at 4:00 this morning, heading for the mountains-we stopped for breakfast at the Mosoleum of a 15th Century hero in the mountains. We crossed the Ma River on a ferry, entering the Thai minority territory. We crossed streams wading across them, and across one river on a raft pulled by four young dudes
(See page 26)
From page 25
swimming out front- so far out. Feels like a safari into the jungle. It's 11:00 now, and we're sitting in a beautiful bamboo house drinking tea and coconut milk, relaxing after our long journey, listening to the very ancient peasants tell us about their colonial history-awfully repressive-despot-owned land, concubines and superstitions.
And so much more. We left from Hanoi airport on the Sixth of June, 7.00 a.m. This is what I wrote:
So now l'm sitting in a Soviet airplane looking at Vietnam perhaps for the last time- the boy and the ox, the forever rice fields, the mountains, the bombed buildings and pockmarked land, golden sunrise and last night's red sunset. I love Vietnam. Gold and Red. Dragon, Phoenix, Tortoise, and mythical Lion. Vietnam is one and all the people-brothers and sisters-North and South can never be separated, the 'United States is such a farce and its government are fools, assholes, blind in the cosmos. Now I feel such incredible love, such deep deep hatred, a sadness at leaving and the coming excitement of returning to the belly of the beast, Babylon, the struggle, my despicable and beloved homeland, back someday to the arms of my other half, Pun -not even sure that he's still alive or free. If only I can take back with me and give to all my people what Vietnam has given to me.
We are the people of a new Nation in Amerika. The whole world is watching us. SEIZE THE TIME OUTLAWS!
Minister of International Affairs
White Panther Party
Photo by Magdalene Sinclair
Genie Palmondon, Minister of International Affairs, White Panther Party