Visiting the War Remants Museum of Ho Chi Minh City isn’t a happy day out; the whole thing is quite an emotional roller coaster that never peaks. At the entrance, fat armchair war nerds take pictures, smiling as they stand next to old Chinook helicopters while drinking from a can of coke. Everything goes downhill from there.
Once in the main building, the first floor compiles the anti-war sentiment from the time, ranging from fellow Commie propaganda to immolating international supporters and draft dodging Americans. Makes you think there is hope in the world.
As you go up through the exhibits, so does the moaning, gasping, grunting, and weeping from the visitors. Chemical warfare this, tens of thousands of orphans that. Gut wrenching stuff. The most avid snuff enthusiast would go queasy over half stories told through thousands of photographs.
Not very often a nation tears it’s own stomach open, skips rope with the intestines, to then put it all back together and heal the wounds. And even as they wrote history after victory, the once named “Museum af American War crimes” still reminds you that plenty of American GIs were subjected to as many horrors as some of the locals. Such is Vietnam.
The War Remnants Museum is the one museum where you can take pictures, in fact, they count on you doing it. Take as many as you want, as long as you go around showing them to everyone you can. The museum intends to call the public to say no to war and yes to peace for solidarity.
Now I’m going to watch some Happy Days reruns. But if you want a very underrated take on the conflict, rent Heaven and Earth by Oliver Stone. It’s almost as emotionally exhausting as visiting the museum.