Remembering Sacrifice

Etienne Murphy

“In America, you don’t fight because you hate what is in front of you. You fight because you love what’s behind you.” Pete Hegseth, May 27, 2017

A Memorial Day post dedicated to Etienne Murphy and all the men and women who died in all the U.S. wars. Army Specialist Etienne Murphy, of B Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Rangers was killed in a vehicle rollover on May 26, 2017, in Syria. According to the This Ain’t Hell blog,  “Murphy was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and enlisted in the

Arlington National Cemetery-220,000 graves receive flags

Army from his hometown of Snellville, Georgia, in June 2013, according to USASOC. After training at Fort Benning, Georgia, Murphy served in 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, which is part of the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, at Fort Drum, New York. In October 2015, Murphy volunteered to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment, successfully completing airborne school and Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1.” Army Specialist Murphy leaves behind a wife and two small children. And, there are millions of men and women like Army Specialist Murphy buried around the world. America’s global footprint in not in lands conquered, it is in the dead we left fighting for others’ freedom.

American families are, in general, proud of the service of their members. Our family members served in every major conflict, including the Revolutionary War and both sides of the Civil War.  We’ve attended Memorial Day parades and stood in silence; awed by

For many the day is very personal.

the sheer weight of the number of wars represented. We’ve assisted VFW (Veteran of Foreign Wars) chapters placing tiny flags at the gravesides of veterans; our laughter stilled by the sheer number of veterans who’ve gone before.  Grieving widows and widowers attending to the graves of their loved ones etch unforgettable images onto our brain. The realization that the millions of individual veteran’s stories silenced by death are our history sobers thoughts of laughter, swimming, and the barbecue to come later.  Then again, the laughter, swimming, and barbecue is why they fought, is it not?

It took a while to get the U.S. Memorial Day act together. In 1966, President Johnson finally executed a 1950 Congressional joint resolution defining the date, time, and purpose of Memorial Day.

“…The Congress, in a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950 (64 Stat. 158), has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period during each such day when the people of the United States might unite in such supplication:

Now, Therefore, I, Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 1966, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at eleven o’clock in the morning of that day as a time to unite in such prayer….”
LYNDON B. JOHNSON

Proclamation 3727—Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 1966
May 26, 1966

And so it was that Waterloo, New York became the birthplace of Memorial Day as we know it.  Johnson’s Proclamation pointed out that“…On this Memorial Day, as we honor the memory of brave men who have borne our colors in war, we pray to God for His mercy. We pray for the wisdom to find a way to end this struggle of nation against nation, of brother against brother. We pray that soon we may begin to build the only true memorial to man’s valor in war–a sane and hopeful environment for the generations to Come….”  On the cusp of 2017’s Memorial Day, not much has changed except the fields of battle and the names.

Kudos to President Johnson and his staff. Defining a birthplace for Memorial Day can’t have been politically easy; decorating graves is embedded into Western Culture.  Waterloo, New York was a good place. The Waterloo website points out “The story of Memorial Day begins in the summer of 1865, when a prominent local druggist, Henry C. Welles, mentioned to some of his friends at a social gathering that while praising the living veterans of the Civil War it would be well to remember the patriotic dead by placing flowers on their graves. Nothing resulted from this suggestion until he advanced the idea again the following spring to General John B. Murray. Murray, a civil war hero and intensely patriotic, supported the idea wholeheartedly and marshaled veterans’ support. Plans were developed for a complete celebration by a local citizens’ committee headed by Welles and Murray. On May 5, 1866, the Village was decorated with flags at half-mast, draped with evergreens and mourning black. Veterans, civic societies, and residents, led by General Murray, marched to the strains of martial music to the three village cemeteries. There, impressive ceremonies were held and soldiers’ graves decorated. One year later, on May 5, 1867, the ceremonies were repeated. In 1868, Waterloo joined with other communities in holding their observance on May 30th, y General Logan’s orders. It has been held annually ever since….”

Decorating graves of those who died in battle began in earnest following the Civil War. The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs highlights the ‘who’s first’ discussion. “…Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well….”

Memorial Day 2017 is poignant considering the actions of those women decorating Union gravestones so long ago. Today there is a movement afoot to erase the Civil War, its history, and its impact on the American story.  Whether the Civil War erupted over States’ rights or slavery or partition is not the issue.  The result was that the sacrifice of millions of families and the most terrible loss of life ever in U.S. warfare moved the moral arc farther than any other war in U.S. history following the Revolutionary War. Not acknowledging Civil War history and re-writing it to suit current political agendas is to lose the lessons paid for in blood and reduces the texture of what it means to be an American.

May each of you enjoy a wonderful Memorial Day weekend by commemorating those who gave their lives for our freedom.  Laugh, play, enjoy! It’s why they fought in the first place.

The Vietnam War and Remembrance: (April 30th, 1975-April 30th, 2017)

[Editor’s Note: An individual who can witness, nay live through, decades on the battlements of hell and emerge with wisdom and beauty are to be welcomed. Those who speak with clarion voice allowing others to learn from that experience are to be celebrated. Thank you Kim Roberts.]

April 30, 1975—April 30, 2017. Then and Now. Photos of him the day we met, and of us

The way I am today. Taken with two girl friends two weeks ago

more than four decades ago when he was alive, then my current picture taken two weeks ago with friends from the Sadec Flower Village in Vietnam to America. Love and War. Destiny and the magic of life. Over four decades have gone by the window of my life, literally as swiftly as whiffs of fragrance in the whirlwind breeze–from the fresh scent of Spring essence to the intense, spicy, and aromatic Summer heat then transitioned to the soft, intimate touch of flurry Autumn leaves dispersing in the air, and ending it all with a silky, tendered scent of Winter rain drips. Life has been both a curse and a blessing, nonetheless, no regrets.

We met in April 1968 at a Military Chapel in Dong Tam, Vietnam, one year short of five decades ago, while taking communion. On April 30, 1975, he frantically tried to get me out of Vietnam to no avail. Taking a leap of faith, I planned an escape from Vietnam and succeeded. Months later, I was a tattered refugee in America beginning to build a new life. Survival, Love, and War. And hundreds, if not thousands, of other events in between. Oh, what a life!

In remembrance of April 30, 1975, a day of peace, I am reprinting a piece I wrote on April 30, 2000, “Peace at Any Price,” which was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. I am reposting it as I hope that this reminder helps the next generations of people from Vietnam and all Americans how precious peace is. We need to acknowledge the past, appreciate the peaceful present, and move toward the future with our faith in each other and I pray that our government and leaders will do the same. I also hope that the healing process extended over the past four decades has brought back the spirit of Vietnam, the country I love, and the beauty and uniqueness it once manifested itself. May we all remember this day–a day to celebrate LIFE, PEACE, and LOVE.

*****Peace at Any Price/Her countrymen who survived the carnage of Vietnam seem to have put the war behind them. Why can’t she?

by Kim N Roberts Published 4:00 am, Sunday, April 30, 2000. The San Francisco Chronicle ©SFGate.org (Reposting on April 30, 2017)

The way he was when I first met him, one year short of 5 decades ago.

When I began writing down memories of my escape from Vietnam, I had no idea it would dredge up so much pain. Often during the three years I’ve worked on the project, I wake up in the morning weeping.

“What’s wrong?” my husband asks.

“It’s Vietnam,” I say. “I get upset whenever I remember the war.

“Can’t you just forget about it?” he asks.

But I can’t forget.

I left Vietnam for America after the war — the war that took away the loved ones I cherished, the war that deprived me of my personal possessions, the war that forced me to flee the country I loved so much. I was 24 years old.

I was one of the lucky ones. For years I felt guilty for having escaped from Vietnam, for surviving. I wished no one would ask me about my national origin. I wished my husband would not tell people where I came from when he introduced me. I wished that others would mistake me for a Korean or Filipino. It took me a long time to realize I was a victim of the Vietnam War — not the maker of it.

Most Americans — even the most caring, the most sensitive — have no idea what it was like to live through the war. For them, it is over, done with, history. I can’t look to an American and see understanding in their eyes when I talk about the war. They can’t understand why, after 25 years, I cannot forget.

But to my shock, when I turn to my compatriots, I see that the majority of the Vietnamese I know — many who suffered greater losses than I did — act as if they have managed to erase the war that tore so many of our lives to shreds.

(For additional details, please visit www.sadecinmyheart.com)

I went back to Vietnam four years ago, hoping to find a sense of kinship I’d been missing for so many years. My countrymen welcomed me with cheerful, smiling faces as they told me they had forgotten about the war. But have they really?
My 23-year-old relative Tan Tran was born soon after his father, a South Vietnamese army officer, was killed. “I don’t know anything about the war,” he said. “I am now married and we have a thriving seafood business. Life is good here. So I don’t think about war.”
“Bring your husband back with you next time you return,” the young town chief told me when I went to Sadec, my hometown in the Mekong Delta. He knew that my husband served in Vietnam. “We have forgotten about the war. Americans are our friends now.”
My driver, Luu Nguyen, in his mid-40s, asked, “Why didn’t you bring your husband? The Vietnamese are happy to see Americans — no more governmental restriction or resentment, no more hatred and retaliation.” While I was talking to Luu, his daughter asked me about Michael Jackson, her American idol.
The Vietnamese have learned to live like Americans, too. At the Hotel Sadec, for $25 a night, I got an air-conditioned room with breakfast and packages of luxury items: toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, shampoo, and soap. I was given postcards, maps and information in English about the local tourist attractions — including the monument to Ho Chi Minh’s father and the Xeo Quyt Canal, a former Viet Cong hideout and fire-base. I later visited the Cu Chi tunnels in Phuoc Long, built by the Viet Cong underneath the military base of the American First Air Cavalry Division.
“Why do the Americans want to remember those bad old days?” asked the tour guide. “They give me my job. I feel like a winner. I make money and I don’t have to remember the war.”
Vietnam isn’t the only place where newfound prosperity seemed to wipe out for others what for me are horrors imprinted forever upon my heart. The Vietnamese I know in California all tell me how they also have forgotten the war.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the war’s end. Not long ago, I called my childhood friend, My Nguyen, to ask her about the commemoration plans in San Jose, where she now lives.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I have forgotten all about it. Since 1989, I have been working 70 hours a week so I can send money home regularly. You should see the videotape my brother made of our new house in Vietnam, built with the money I sent.”

One evening at 10 p.m. I called Hang Doan, a sister-in-law in her early 60s who escaped Vietnam with me, to ask for information about our camp in Thailand. Hang and her husband own 15 rental houses. They both work full-time for Sacramento County, and Hang also teaches at night.
“I have almost forgotten these things,” Hang said. “I’m too busy to look back. I just got home from my second job. I often have dinner around 10. Sweetie, haven’t you forgotten about the war?”
Other Vietnamese tell me the same thing: They have forgotten the war, its aftermath, and the mistakes, heartache, atrocities and misery that came with it. Everyone thinks that making money, a lot of it, is the best remedy.
When I visited the War Crimes Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, I wondered how the Vietnamese could look at the photo display of corpses strewn on the ground, the napalm victims’ burned bodies, and the planes spraying clouds of Agent Orange and say they have forgotten the war.

When I saw streets that bear such names as Dien Bien Phu, or Cach Mang Thang Tam (August Revolution), Dong Khoi (Simultaneous Uprising), Nam Ky Khoi Nghia (Southern Revolt), I wondered how my countrymen could walk these avenues and say they’ve forgotten. Is it only their memories that have died, or have they paid for the act of “forgetting” with a piece of their hearts as well?

Linh Tran, who works for me, brought me the March 19 newspaper showing the

The way we were four decades ago.

Vietnamese protesting in Oakland over the lithograph exhibition of Ho Chi Minh. “These Vietnamese protesters probably don’t want to be reminded of the war,” she said. “But they show that they still hold on to memories of the past. I personally wish I can forget the war.” Linh, in her mid-50s, came to America in 1986. Her husband, a former South Vietnamese soldier, was in a forced labor camp for seven years. She remembers feeding her baby thin rice soup flavored with salt because after the war, there was no milk or sugar, even in the black market.
When her oldest son, Tuan, was drafted to fight in Cambodia in 1979, she peeled off her tin roof and sold the tin piece by piece to pay for his escape. Tuan’s boat was pirated four times. He ended up as a refugee in Italy. He is now a manager in an Italian bakery, working 60 hours per week. Linh, her husband and her daughter each work two jobs. “So we can afford the things we lost to the war,” she says.

But for me, there isn’t enough money in the world to make up for what I lost.
For Americans, the war ended when the fighting stopped 25 years ago. But for the Vietnamese, the end of the conventional war was the beginning of millions of private wars.
I, along with my sister and her family, escaped persecution by the victorious North Vietnamese by fleeing Vietnam in an old leaking fishing boat with a broken-down engine. I still recall the horror I felt one day at the sight of three bright red Khmer Rouge boats surrounding our boat. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge killed thousands of escapees — including their own — but for some reason that day the Khmer Rouge decided not to investigate us, 26 escapees, including children, as our boat ran adrift along the Cambodian shore. It was a miracle that we safely reached Thailand.
I wish I could forget the miserable days in the refugee camps when we were homeless and destitute. At one point, my sister-in-law Hang literally fought the camp attendant for a piece of plastic to hang around our mosquito net to give us some privacy. She lost.
And I can’t forget the small fire that destroyed all the personal belongings I brought in a small overnighter and left me with only one burned silver dollar.

In California, I look at my countrymen and divide them into three groups. Some are what I call the “drifters,” those too young to know the war or too indifferent to want to know. Some are the “vanquished,” those who survived the war bitter, poor, underprivileged and lost. The third group, the “victors,” triumphed over the past through personal success — accumulated wealth, a brilliant career, social status or an education.
But while they seem to have forgotten about the war, their obsession with success tells me otherwise. They work as if they are racing against the ghost of the past — a ghost that may catch up with them and devour them if they slow down.

Kim Roberts’ writes a great blog. Please visit: http://www.sadecinmyheart.com/

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Merry Christmas and Thank You to All Who Serve or Have Served

Author: Unknown

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So slumbered I, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Trooper, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment. It’s freezing out here!

Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.

To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said, “It’s really alright,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”
“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died in Europe on a day in December,”
Then he said, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures. He’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The Red, White and Blue American Flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

Spc. Mitchell Eidsvold (left), Spc. Michael Hons (center), and Sgt. Scott Jenson (right) of the 191st Military Police Company race towards the finish line of the Fallen Soldiers Memorial 12K run, while wearing full combat equipment and carrying the American Flag. The run took place in Devils Lake, N.D. on June 23, 2012. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment) (Released)

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.

To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

The Taiwan Straits Crisis – Leadership Makes a Difference

In 1979, President Carter recognized Beijing. While many viewed this change in foreign

Taiwan welcomes U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1960 (Wikipedia)

Taiwan welcomes U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1960 (Wikipedia)

policy as a victory, Taiwan did not. Along with the South China Sea, parts of Vietnam and other areas in Asia, China believes it owns Taiwan. To make political hay on the China deal the U.S. had to forsake Taiwan. To that end, foreign relations with Taiwan was severed. However, moral courage flagged and the U.S., like a codependent partner, adopted the Taiwan Relations Act that formally kept relations with “the people of Taiwan”.  Through this act billions in trade and weapons have been transacted.

A simple ten minute phone call between President-elect Trump and Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president sent shivers through the press and federal government. Oh my, China is upset. Before we jump to the conclusion that the world is about to end, it might benefit us to understand China has something to lose as well. On the other hand, Bob Dole, a lobbyist for the Taiwanese government and deep ties to the military industrial complex allegedly arranged the now-famous ‘telephone’ call. The lobbying swamp in Washington D.C. is indeed deep and wide.  Perhaps it is time to be codependent no more. Of course, non-stop undeclared wars will bankrupt the state financially and morally.  More than once the U.S. and China have come perilously close to blows over Taiwan. Close, but no blows were launched.

Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000) The inventor of spread spectrum technique and frequency hopping. Why we have cell phones and wifi.

Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000) The inventor of spread spectrum technique and frequency hopping. Why we have cell phones and wifi.

Sixty years have come and gone, but the sun has yet to set on the Taiwan Straits Crisis. Stranded on the rocky island of secrecy amid the storms of the Cold War (1947-1991), the mists of time should not be permitted to veil the lessons that must be learned.  In the U.S. during the early 1950s, Eisenhower was in office, China was engaged in a civil war, the Soviets were antsy, and the Air Force longed to hear the words  ‘the pickle is hot’ indicating they were free to unload armaments. The only thing missing from the high-tension plot was a bevy of brilliant beauties unless, of course, you consider Madam Chiang Kai-shek and Hedy Lamar.

Like a fine dining experience, the Taiwan Straits crisis unfolds in courses paired with the appropriate drink. In the late 1920s, China engaged in a great civil war. Following the final gasp of the Qing Dynasty in 1917, China was an unwieldy briar patch. From the political vacuum of swirling cultures and societal chaos coupled with the sheer size of the country, two primary competing forces emerged; Mao Tse-tung who would be at the helm of the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) with a Communist agenda and Chiang Kai-Shek (ROC) who would lead the forces that did not want communism.

Both leaders were nasty pieces of work. Each was brutal and inhumane during their respective rule. Mao Tse-tung, wins the prize for the greatest mass murderer the world has ever seen.  According

to the Heritage Foundation’s Lee Edwards, Ph.D., “…an estimated 65 million Chinese died as a result of Mao’s repeated, merciless attempts to create a new “socialist” China. Anyone who got in his way was done away with — by execution, imprisonment or forced famine.”…[1] Chiang Kai-Shek

Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) and Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Soong May-ling) (1897-2003)

Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) and Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Soong May-ling) (1897-2003)

, with about 10 million deaths on his soul, is no piker.[2] The battles between Chiang and Mao raged for a decade between 1927 and 1937. Chiang Kai-shek finally pushed Mao Tse-tung into Shaanxi, a remote rocky, barren site in northeastern China when, in July 1937, Japan invaded China. Chiang Kai-Shek won the first round.  Back in the west, the upsets in China were noted and then fell into obscurity with the burning challenges of the Great Depression, the advent of WWII and the early portents of the Cold War (1947-1991). Course one is served.

WWII signaled the rise of the United States as a major player on the military stage. China was viewed as a ‘victim’ of the Japanese. The U.S. and Britain were practically giddy over the dream that, after the war, China would become the lynch pin of stability in East Asia and a strong western ally. Beginning in 1941 the U.S. pumped millions of dollars into the region. By 1943, treaties between the U.S., Britain, and China were rewritten, signed and the U.S. had boots on the ground. About then harsh reality settled in as the U.S. tried, without success, to mend the Chinese fences between Mao Tse-tung’s Communist factions and

Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976), President, Peoples Republic of China

Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976), President, Peoples Republic of China

Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist factions.  By the end of WWII, the Marines were told to hold Beiping (Beijing) and the northern city of Tianjin against a possible Soviet incursion. Recently retired General George C. Marshall attempted to negotiate a truce between the PRC and ROC factions in 1946. It quickly fell apart as neither the Communists nor the Nationalists were of a mind to compromise and the U.S. withdrew to deal with the European challenges of reparation. Back in the U.S., the division over whether to intervene on behalf of Chiang Kai-shek or not was beginning to deepen and harden. The second course was served with red wine.

Beginning in 1949, Mao Tse-Tung activated the military plan he had been formulating for years in his virtual prison in Shaanxi. By October 1949, Mao had bowled over Chiang Kai-shek’s forces, which fell like ten pins, and Chiang retreated to Taiwan where he formally established the Republic of China. Meanwhile in the rest of the world; Russia detonated its first nuke…gasp… and, in the U.S., the Republicans and Democrats were at it hammer and tongs over the victory of Mao’s Communists on mainland China and the Nationalists’ fate on Taiwan. Nuclear War became a real specter and the U.S. was anticipating the silly season, election time. Just in case the plate was not full enough, in June 1950, the Communists launched a second offensive with its opening salvo in Korea.

In the debate over what to do about the changed military situation in Korea following the second, and massive, Chinese military intervention in late November 1950, Marshall opposed a cease-fire with the Chinese – it would represent a “great weakness on our part”-and added that the United States could not in “all good conscience” abandon the South Koreans. When British Prime Minister Clement Attlee suggested negotiations with the Chinese, Marshall expressed opposition, arguing that it was almost impossible to negotiate with the Chinese Communists; he also expressed fear of the effects on Japan and the Philippines of concessions to the Communists. At the same time Marshall sought ways to avoid a wider war with China. When many in Congress favored an expanded war, Marshall was among the administration leaders who, in February 1951, stressed the paramount importance to the United States of Western Europe.[3]

 The infighting within the U.S. political and military establishment was intense. General MacArthur,

Lieutenant General Walter Krueger, Commanding General, U.S. Sixth Army (left), General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area, and General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army (right) At a field headquarters in the Southwest Pacific Area, late 1943. (Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Photo #: SC 183951)

Lieutenant General Walter Krueger, Commanding General, U.S. Sixth Army (left), General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area, and General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army (right) At a field headquarters in the Southwest Pacific Area, late 1943. (Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Photo #: SC 183951)

who oversaw the Allied occupation of postwar Japan and led United Nations forces in the Korean War disagreed strongly with the now retired General Marshall on how best to address the Communist aggression in East Asia. MacArthur was in favor of using all available force, including nukes, to back the Chinese Communists and Stalin off. Eventually, the rift grew so deep and open that the popular MacArthur managed to get himself fired by Truman. The Republicans in Congress went nuts and, in January, 1953, Republican President Eisenhower was sworn into office. This course was finally over and it was served with hard liquor.

The fourth course is light by comparison. In 1954, Chiang Kai-shek’s ROC occupied the islands of Taiwan and, further north, the Dachen Islands; these island groupings are very close to mainland China and the waters between them are known as the Taiwan Straits. To this day, both sides of the Chinese Civil War still view the Islands as strategically important because they present a launch platform from which to invade

Taiwan Straits

Taiwan Straits

mainland China. From time-to-time in the early 1950s they bombed each other. The Korean War kept the Chinese warring factions separated through the presence of the U.S. Fleet. The U.S. ‘maybe’ switch of sentiments that would have allowed Mao to retake the islands turned to a definite ‘No’ as a result of Korea. After the Korean War in September 1954, the PRC tried the U.S.resolve when it began bombing the northern islands. The United States signed a Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan, which promised support to the ROC if the PRC engaged in a broader conflict.[4]  Like pieces on a chess board forever advancing and retreating, the confrontations continued throughout 1954. In 1955, Congress passed the ‘Formosa Resolution’, giving President Eisenhower the authority to defend Taiwan and the northern islands. The U.S. let it be known far and wide that Taiwan would be defended against communist attack. A quiet deal on the side was struck with Chiang Kai-shek to defend Jinmen and Mazu, in trade for his exiting Dachen. By 1955, the PRC inexplicably backed down and the pressure was off.

By 1958, the U.S. was center stage with its decision to intervene in Lebanon. Mao and the PRC

Nikita S. Khrushchev (1894-1971) First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964

Nikita S. Khrushchev (1894-1971) First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964

took full advantage of the spotlight to resume bombing of Jinmen and Mazu. When Taiwan could not re-supply their military bases on the off-shore islands, the U.S. did so. The U.S. intervention brought an abrupt end to the bombardment and, once again, eased the crisis. “Eventually, the PRC and ROC came to an arrangement in which they shelled each other’s garrisons on alternate days. This continued for twenty years until the PRC and the United States normalized relations.”(See Footnote 4). Dessert has been served.

The snifter of good cognac and a cigar is in recently released documents that illustrate the internal contest Eisenhower fought to control the military. On January 12, 1954, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced that the United States would protect its allies through the “deterrent of massive retaliatory power” during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. This doctrine was a reflection of the deep divide that opened with the perception that the Truman administration was weak on Communism. The Air Force was anxious to proceed with strategic ‘massive retaliation’[5] and had battled the other branches of the military that argued for a more tactical approach.

Two serendipitous events, one on the U.S. side and one in the Soviet Union, kept the world from a headlong dive into the shallow pool of total nuclear annihilation in the 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis. First President Eisenhower required the Air Force to plan initially to use conventional bombs against Chinese forces if the crisis escalated. Secondly, the Soviet Union’s Khrushchev’s war-like notes to Eisenhower backing the PRC with nuclear threats came on September 6, 1958 only AFTER the Chinese resumed the Sino-American talks and the threat of war was winding down. The timing of the Soviet war noises was not lost on either the Chinese or the Americans.

The U.S. is facing the same choices as it did in the 1950s. This time, however, the hot-to-trot protagonist is the Navy, not the Air Force. Eisenhower was strong enough to understand what was going on and stand the Air Force down, when necessary; Khrushchev was strong enough to delay the saber rattling until the threat was minimized. The Air Sea Battle Plan (ASB) is a current operational concept, not a blueprint for war with China. Having gotten the disclaimer out of the way, the Navy is proceeding to implement it and it is important that the citizens of the world understand it.[6] The lessons from Taiwan include the value of waiting before striking with the mother lode of destruction. The value of choosing leaders wisely becomes crystal clear with a lens that looks back through time.

 

 


[1] The Heritage Foundation; February 2, 2010; Lee Edwards, Ph.D.; The Legacy of Mao Zedong is Mass Murder; http://www.heritage.org/research/commentary/2010/02/the-legacy-of-mao-zedong-is-mass-murder

[2] University of Hawaii; November 1993; R.J. Rummel; HOW MANY DID COMMUNIST REGIMES MURDER?; http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM

[4] U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian; The Taiwan Straits Crises: 1954-55 and 1958; http://history.state.gov/milestones/1953-1960/TaiwanStraitsCrises

[5] George Washington University National Security Archives; The Air Force and Strategic Deterrence 1950-1961; http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb249/doc09.pdf

[6] Defense News; Apr. 24, 2013; WENDELL MINNICK; Planning the Unthinkable War with China: An Aussie View of AirSea Battle; http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130424/DEFREG03/304240011/Planning-Unthinkable-War-China-An-Aussie-View-AirSea-Battle

One for the Good Guys

The Cold War Warrior studies the legacy of the Cold War through many lenses;

Ohio State Garden of Constants

Ohio State Garden of Constants

memories of uniformed and non-uniformed participants, historic events, and through various government bureaucracies.  A high-profile legacy is today’s global Islamist terrorism (NOT all Muslims).  There is an indirect thread that links this class of terrorism to WWII.  However, a strong and unbroken chain manacles the current terrorist activity directly to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and Western Civilization’s response.  Without diving into the murky waters of the Soviet Invasion, suffice it to say the U.S. and other Western countries failed to understand the Islamic and tribal cultures into which they were diving.  Thus, the diplomatic and subsequent warfighting efforts were and are disastrous.

Investigators work around the scene Monday afternoon on the campus of Ohio State University after an attacker allegedly drove a car into a group of students near Watts Hall and then got out of the car and attacked them. (David Petkiewicz, cleveland.com)

Investigators work around the scene Monday afternoon on the campus of Ohio State University after an attacker allegedly drove a car into a group of students near Watts Hall and then got out of the car and attacked them. (David Petkiewicz, cleveland.com)

On November 28, 2016, the Monday after the U.S.’s Thanksgiving holiday, the University of Ohio was attacked by a lone Somali refugee, a legal resident of the United States.  Cleveland.com’s Karen Farkas reported, “Eleven people were injured during a car and knife attack at Ohio State University early Monday and the suspect was then killed by police, authorities said. An hourlong (sic) campus lockdown was lifted at 11:14 a.m. All classes were canceled for the day…”

Terrorism isn’t the only legacy in this story.  There is another, far more proud, American legacy and its story lies behind the closed doors of the hour-long lockdown.  Written by journalist John Gray, it is a tale of duty, honor, and country.

“Lost in all the chaos at Ohio State University today was something that most people probably missed. About an hour into it, when everyone was “sheltering in place” all over campus, CNN took a phone call from a young woman who was locked inside a classroom right near where the suspect was hurting people. She said she was a graduate student and she and many others were huddled together scared and not sure what was happening outside. Then she said something made me tear up.
She said casually to the TV anchor over the phone, “But we happened to have a few ‘military guys’ in my class and the minute we got the text message alert of an ‘active shooter on campus’ they moved the rest of us away from the door and then all of them stood guard right by the door.” She said they were standing there as she spoke making certain if a shooter or someone with a knife or whatever calamity tried to come through that door, they would be the first thing he’d see and they’d stop it and protect the other students or die trying.
These guys weren’t armed, I’m guessing they weren’t in uniform, they were just students who happened to have military training. Those “military guys” instantly put themselves on the clock and assumed the position to protect those unarmed, vulnerable students.
I thought that was impressive. I thought that was brave. I thought that was oh so very American.
I also thought you’d want to know.”
John Gray

There will be other posts that examine U.S. Foreign Policy legacy and the terrible price we pay when policy fails. For tonight, I am once again proud to be an American and thrilled to share the military legacy that serves to protect the people, the nation and what we, the United States represents. We are a good people. The men and women who wear and wore the uniform are good the ‘Good guys’.

 

About John Gray:

John Gray graduated with honors from LaSalle Institute, Hudson Valley Community

John Gray

John Gray

College and SUNY Oswego.

Celebrating his 25th year on television John has covered many big stories including the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the Pope’s visit to America and has reported on a number of Presidential campaigns. However, his favorite stories involve helping people right here at home. John volunteers with a dozen local charities including, ALS, M.S., Special Olympics, Juvenile Diabetes, Hospice, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters to name a few.

He has won numerous awards for his television work and writing, most recently winning a prestigious Emmy Award. He has been awarded “Columnist of the Year” honors from both the Associated Press and New York News Publishers Association and received the Business Reviews 40 Under 40 Award and H.V.C.C.’s ‘Most Distinguished Alumni’ award.

John’s passion is writing and for nearly twenty years his Wednesday column in The Record and Saratogian newspapers has become a local favorite. He also writes a popular monthly column in Capital Region Living Magazine. John has three children and a German shepherd named ‘Max’. In his spare time John enjoys rollerblading, golf and travel.

Cold War II

“Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.  A little voice inside mydeadhead head said ‘Don’t look back, you can never look back…’”

“America can never be conquered.  It can only be brought down from within.”

“…Keep on rockin’ in the free world…”

The Cold War started before the guns of World War II had cooled.  All of us served in one capacity or another in that forty-four year non-conflict.  Many served when the war heated up nearly to the boiling point in faraway Korea and Vietnam.  Many lost life or limb and came home with unseen wounds and scars.  Many served with Army and Air Force units in Europe. Many served in the Marines and Navy around the world.  We won that war.  We thought it was over and we were right, but now it’s come round again.

For hundreds of years Russia has cast a covetous eye to the west and south.  While she has abundant natural resources one she has always lacked is warm water ports.

Murmansk Port

Murmansk Port

Much of Russia’s western ports (Murmansk) are located above the Arctic Circle and are iced in much of the year.  Vladivostok is on the Pacific coast and off the beaten track.  She has a major naval base on the Crimean Peninsula at Sevastopol but her Black Sea Fleet would have to force its way through both the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles Strait to get to the Mediterranean Sea and ultimately the Atlantic.

For much of the nineteenth century Great Britain and Russia engaged in what was then called the Great Game.  Russia took and annexed Central Asia with the goal of moving on India which was then the greatest jewel in Britain’s colonial crown.  Great Britain moved an army into  Afghanistan to block Russia.  Unfortunately for Britain, the Afghans didn’t (and still don’t) appreciate foreigners on their soil with guns in their hands.  Britain lost an entire army.  One doctor managed to make it back to India to tell the tale.

In October, 1917, the government of the Romanov Czars fell to the Bolsheviks.  Russia morphed into the Union of Soviet Socialists.  Once the Bolshevik (Communist) party had assumed control of the country they continued the programs the Czars had started with an additional goal of taking the Baltic states.  Regardless of who holds power in Russia the goal always remains the same.  In 1939 the Stalin government signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany.  Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June, 1942.

By the Spring of 1945 the Soviet Union and the Western Allies (the United States and Great Britain) had driven the German Wehrmacht back into Germany and had captured Berlin.  The war had cost the lives of millions of Russian citizens.  The Soviets had overrun the Balkan States, Eastern Europe and roughly half of Germany.    Stalin occupied the Eastern Europe.  He installed puppet Communist governments in each.  They would serve as a buffer zone for the Soviet Union in the event Germany tried to invade again.  This coalition was known as the Warsaw Pact. Western European countries led by the United States and Great Britain set up their own alliance known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This is where many of us came in.  NATO and the Warsaw Pact maintained a state of watchfulness on each other for more than forty years.    Many of us were there.

To make a long and complicated story short, the Warsaw Pact came apart and the Communist government of the Soviet Union fell in 1991.  Democracy was tried, but after

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin 2015

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin 2015

generations of strict Communist governance the Russian population wasn’t comfortable with freedom.  Many yearned for a strong leader.  That leader appeared in the person of one Vladimir Putin on December 31, 1999.

Putin had served the Soviet Union as a KGB operative in East Germany (he speaks fluent German).  With the fall of the Soviet Union he resigned (rank: lieutenant colonel) and entered politics in Saint Petersburg.  He very quickly worked his way up to become Prime Minister and President Boris Yeltsin’s hand-picked successor.  On 31 December, 1999 Yeltsin resigned as president.  Putin stepped up to replace him and has never looked back.

Putin has shown himself to be the reincarnation of a combination of the Czars and the Communist Party premiers.  Political opponents have been tried for various crimes and imprisoned.  Ditto political dissidents.  Reporters that have been critical of Putin’s activities have been murdered and the crimes remain unsolved.  While he hasn’t (yet?) gone to the genocidal extremes of Stalin, Putin obviously intends to not only maintain power in Russia, but he also plans to extend Russian hegemony.

“So, what does any of this have to do with a Cold War that’s long over?” I hear you ask.

I’m glad you brought that up.  In 1941 Imperial Japan knew that they couldn’t fight and defeat the United States.  They did know that if they could strike and defeat the U.S. Pacific Fleet in a surprise attack that the United States would be unable to rebuild and strike back before Japan had attained her strategic goals.  They obviously misread and underestimated the political will of America’s leadership and the ability of her people to build the war machine that would ultimately crush them and turn two of her cities into radioactive rubble piles.

Putin is thinking along the same lines, I think.  He wants to reestablish the East European buffer zone against NATO. He also wants to reestablish the old Russian empire.  He knows he doesn’t have to strike the United States or NATO militarily to attain his goals.  He’s judged the leadership of both and found them weak.  He’s already seized the Crimea from Ukraine and sponsored a revolt for roughly a third of that country to secede and reattach itself to Russia.  The Russian (I very nearly typed ‘Soviet’, old habits die hard, I guess) air force is busy bombing rebel and civilian targets in Syria to help prop up the Assad regime.   He has, in fact reignited the Cold War.

Putin knows he can never conquer, much less invade, the United States.  He also knows that to accomplish his short term and long term strategic goals the United States must be kept out of his way.  The best way for him to do this is to divide the United States politically and to keep us divided.  Up until this election cycle he’s only had to sit back and watch us divide ourselves.  For the last eight years we’ve become expert at doing just that.  Since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 we’ve become every bit as divided as we were in 1860. The one big difference is that we’re not divided geographically as we are politically.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

Until Obama was elected I had never heard of demands that an elected president show his birth certificate.  Did I miss something in the forty-eight years that I’ve been eligible to vote?  I had never heard of demands for any president before Jimmy Carter to show proof of their citizenship. I’ve been a life-long Republican.  These days I’m referred to as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) by people that haven’t been voting nearly as long as I have.  I learned in the Army that when we saluted an officer we saluted the rank, not the man.  I believe that the office of President is owed a certain amount of respect whether one agrees with his politics or not.  Although I didn’t (and wouldn’t) vote for him I believe that Barack H. Obama is the legally elected president of the United States.

The “Birther” Movement that tried (and still tries) to prove that Obama can’t be the legally elected president because he is ‘technically’ an American citizen.  The ‘Birthers’ believe that Obama was born in Kenya.  Apparently there was a conspiracy when he was born to some day make him the president so that he could drag the country to Hell.  They also believe that he’s Muslim. I haven’t read in the Constitution that any particular religion disqualifies a person from holding office, but I digress. One of the leaders of the ‘Birther’ movement has been one Donald J. Trump. He has kept pouring small amounts of gasoline on the birther fire since it’s conception although he denies it in spite of video and audio evidence to the contrary (“Who you gonna believe?  Me? Or that lying video?”)

Now Trump is the Republican candidate for president.  Against all expectations he managed to defeat a very qualified GOP field of primary candidates.  He made every possible mistake that a candidate could possibly make and still won the nomination.  The only insult that he hasn’t thrown at his opponents is to accuse any of them of bigamy (see Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel) but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he did.  To say that Trump has run a very unconventional campaign would be the understatement of the millennium.  Trump has proved time and again that he is not qualified to hold the office of president (Nuclear Triad? Why can’t we just nuke ISIS?) yet his supporters don’t care.  They claim that during his campaign rants that Trump says what they’re thinking.  That thought alone makes me very nervous.

One of the few people that Trump has not insulted (besides his supporters) is Vladimir Putin.  Trump claims that he has never met Putin (depending on which Trump interview you believe) but that Putin has said nice things about him so he believes that Putin must be a nice guy.  Trump even defended Putin during the third presidential debate with Hillary Clinton.  Evidently, Putin is a very nice guy.  He’s done more to advance Trump’s presidential hopes than probably anyone else.

Russian intelligence services have hacked Democratic Party computers as well as those of Clinton’s campaign staff.  They’ve passed hacked emails to Wikileaks which has posted them on the internet for the world to see.  Trump has read these emails to the crowds at his rallies.  I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t care that they’re stolen goods.

So, we have a foreign power openly interfering in American politics during a presidential election year.  I have to wonder why.  My theory is that Putin wants an American president that he can not only manipulate but can possibly push around using whatever tricks he learned in the KGB.  Trump thinks he’s a lady’s man.  He believes that rich as he is he’s entitled to any woman he wants.  He took the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow.  According to Russian intelligence sources, they have plenty of dirt on Trump.  A possible honey trap wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility; the Russians are masters at that.

Before any of this information came out Trump had publicly announced that the United States pays too much into NATO.  He said that in the event of a war in that region he would have to check the balance sheet of the affected countries to see if they’d payed their dues before we would come to their assistance.  Possibly he didn’t realize that we have ground units in Poland?  Would he at least try to get them out of harm’s way or would he sacrifice them to ‘Nice Guy’ Putin?  I believe that if Trump is elected president he would leave the door to Eastern Europe wide open to Putin’s strategic ambitions.  Eastern Europe would be on its own and some of the blood shed would be American.

I’m obviously not a Trump supporter.  I haven’t been since I listened to his announcement that he was tossing his hat into the presidential ring.  The man disgusts me to be perfectly honest.  There are many more reasons that I don’t want to see him sitting in the Oval Office, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll stick to the cold war that’s been reignited.  I believe that if/when Trump takes office his butt won’t even have time to warm his chair in the Oval Office before Putin starts making his moves.

Perturbation-1992 The Last Election of the Cold War

Perturbation: a disturbance of motion, course, arrangement, or state of equilibrium; especially:  a disturbance of the regular and usually elliptical course of motion of a celestial body that is produced by some force additional to that which causes its regular motion” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Binary Star system

Binary Star system

Today, November 1, 2016, President Obama’s approval rating is 54% per Gallup. Without a doubt, President Obama is a very popular president.  In comparison, George H.W. Bush basked in the glow of the successful prosecution of the Persian Gulf War with an 89% approval rating at the beginning of the 1992 election season. At the time Bush was so popular that Democratic top tier contenders like Mario Cuomo waved off the opportunity to run and, in the vacuum, Democrats Jerry Brown (California Governor and reformer), Bill Clinton (Arkansas governor and centrist or New Democrat), Tom Harkin (Iowa Senator and populist), Bob Kerrey (Nebraska Senator with a business and military background), Paul Tsongas (Former Massachusetts Senator and fiscal conservative) , and L. Douglas Wilder (Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, African-American)  signed up for the Democratic primary battles.

Perturbation in the Democrat-Republican binary star system appeared when Ross Perot, a cheeky, independent, Texas billionaire who eventually drew about 19% of the popular vote entered the race. If anyone had cared to listen, Ross Perot was playing to a large portion of America’s working class population afraid that the trade impact of NAFTA, the North America free Trade Agreement, would result in loss of American manufacturing jobs and the secondary fear of increasing national debt.  Although on the ballot in all 50 states, Perot eventually sunk himself by withdrawing, then re-entering the race.

The Democrat-Republican binary star system was further vexed by an asteroid belt of candidates from the: Libertarian Party, New Alliance Party, Natural Law Party, U.S. Taxpayers’ Party, Populist Party, Lyndon LaRouche’s candidacy, Socialist Workers’ Party, Ron Daniels candidacy, the Workers League, the National Rainbow Coalition and a host of twelve others with party names like “Looking Back” and “Apathy” who had ballot access in one or more states. Continue reading

Fate of Marines left behind in Cambodia in 1975 haunts Comrades

[Editor’s Note: “Fate of Marines left behind in Cambodia in 1975 haunts Comrades” is a re-blog from the Cherries – A Vietnam War Novel website.  For many who fought in WWII and the Cold War “Hot Spots”, Memorial Day never ends.}

From left, Lance Cpl. Joseph Hargrove, Pfc. Gary Hall and Pvt. Danny Marshall

From left, Lance Cpl. Joseph Hargrove, Pfc. Gary Hall and Pvt. Danny Marshall

KOH TANG, Cambodia — Monsoon rains and fearsome waves pound Koh Tang, as they have since the last battle of the Vietnam War nearly 38 years ago. The earth gives away on the island’s west beach, revealing a bit of cloth and a zipper.

They could be leftovers from one of the 10 excavations carried out by Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command investigators; holes they have dug sit nearby. Or they could be remnants of the American troops who died during one of America’s greatest wartime failures in Southeast Asia…Click here to Continue Reading

Searching for “e”

Posited by Leif Smith as a replacement for the thought disrupting he/she—she/he

The Evolution of e - http://ilovetypography.com/2010/08/07/where-does-the-alphabet-come-from/

The Evolution of e – http://ilovetypography.com/2010/08/07/where-does-the-alphabet-come-from/

construct of political correctness; e is for ego, the individual within.  The possessive, er, eliminates his/hers—hers/his (we must take care to avoid the micro-aggressions that send college students fleeing to safe spaces filled with stuffed animals and puppies).  I like it and we’re going to test drive the concept in this post.

The Cold War Warrior celebrates the legacy of ordinary individuals enmeshed in an extraordinary fifty-three-year undeclared clash between the ideas of collectivism and those of individualism.  By its very nature, the Cold War had a propensity to turn hot at the drop of a political hat.

Collectivism defines one extreme of a pendulum’s arc and individualism the other extreme. Human political history is written along the arc described by that pendulum.  In the late 1700s the United States codified individualism into its founding documents inserting enormous creative energy into the pendulum.  The struggles, donnybrooks, fits and starts of individualism were humorous and horrifying as the experiment proceeded in whether or not a nation composed of individuals could exist.  Great things happened; roads, rail systems, bridges manufacturing opened the land, the middle class burgeoned, farmers fed themselves and a country took shape. Horrific things also happened; wars, takings, and social struggle.

In the 20th Century science and philosophy injected another burst of creative energy into the system. Einstein, Bohr, Picasso, Santayana, Bertrand Russel, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper, Wells and myriad others released a critical mass of ideas that spurred the pendulum of human history to swing through its prescribed arc with more speed than ever before. Collectivism grabbed Russia by the coattails and tossed it headlong into collectivism.  Another great experiment began and spread.

Continue reading

The Eleventh Orchid

Prolog

Serene Lăng Cô, Vietnam Coastline

Serene Lăng Cô, Vietnam Coastline

The following memoirs about the Le Tien family was recalled by Le Tien’s eleventh child from her memory and stories told by her mother, relatives and friends. This book of memoirs was written to retain memories and profiles as proofs for the family’s tradition of culture and kindness. Reading the book will allow all the family’s descendants to access and learn more about their tradition and origin, resulting in helpful lessons which can be applied to everyday life.

It is the same for all times, building a family always needs: heart, self-reliance, knowledge, talent and dignity.

Memoirs of LE TIEN by Le Thi Kim Thoa, the Eleventh Orchid and Author

October 2012, Hanoi

Mr. Le Tien was born in 1895 in Thai Phu, Vu Tien, Thai Binh and died on the eleventh day

Le Thi Kim Thoa, the 11th child

Le Thi Kim Thoa, the 11th child

of the third month of 1948 (based on the lunar calendar) at Con market, Hai Hau, Nam Dinh

His father was Le Van Thuy – a merchant who traded fabrics and his mother was Le Thi Dang – a farmer who worked dedicatedly on sericulture and weaving fabrics

Le Tien was the first child of the family and he had two younger brothers named Le Van Khue and Le Van Bich who lived and worked in Saigon port.

Memoirs of Le Tien’s life and career

As a smart and resourceful person, Le Tien had come to Hanoi with his father for studying and vocational training since he was 13, or 14 years old. With his smartness and independence, he was able to entered the first course of the Indochina University opened by the French. He had studied well so the French awarded him a special technical book at his graduation and entrusted him to build an ice company on Tran Nhat Duat Street of Hanoi. He worked as

Mr. Le Tien

Mr. Le Tien

the head of department and was granted a house located in front of Ton Dan Street. Here the family gave births to these following children Mr./Ms.: Tan, Tuyet, Thanh, Thai, Tiep, Thu, Thi, Thoa.

Later he opened a store on Quan Thanh street, selling for foreign wines and beverages. His aunt – Mrs. Sau and his older children were the managers of this store.

In 1939, with the desire to develop his knowledge and personal career, Le Tien resigned from the ice company and moved to 13 Son Tay Street, Ba Dinh District to exclusively sell manufactured welding electrodes and plastic electric tapes to The Railway Department of Hanoi.

He also invested in French techniques to produce carbonated soft drink which was rapidly consumed by provincial companies so his production could not meet demand. Then the

Le Tien's General Store and Family. ca 1936

Le Tien’s General Store and Family. ca 1936

family gave births to Thu, Thuy and Than.

In 1944, the General Governor of Indochina was aware of his open mind and came to his home to encourage him to open a brewery company, as there was only one brewery company in Hanoi at that time. However, this plan was halted by the revolution.

In this period of chaos, his family had to evacuate to his hometown of Thai Phu and then relocated to the Con market in Hai Hau. After the unsuccessful return, along with a sorrow caused by the loss of wealth and his previous achievements as well as a burden of many children and more than 20 workers, Mr. Le Tien passed away at the age of 53.

Le Tien Family 1939

Le Tien Family 1939

When he was alive, he had a farm of 7,200 square meters which was the biggest one in his hometown and was solely used for family vacations. The family of his uncle Mr. Huu took care of this farm. After the death of Huu, nobody was there to manage the farm so it was taken over by the government. In addition, he had more houses at 13, 15, 43 Son Tay and a manufacturing factory that ran from the beginning of Pham Tuan (Ong Ich Khiem) Street to the car factory near Ngoc Ha market in an area of over 1,000 square meters. Later when the revolution began, with the enlightenment, his son – Mr. Thai did let the government manage the factory. As the result, the factory was occupied.

Rendering of Le Tien vacation villa, Thai Phu

Rendering of Le Tien vacation villa, Thai Phu

Mr. Le Tien was a pioneer in his day. He achieved so many things in Vietnam at that time. He held French Indochina driving license number 002 and was the first Vietnamese to ride a motorbike and buy a car in 1934.

Mr. Le Tien was also a nature and travelling lover, he liked to learn about the outside world.

Mr. Le was the first Vietnanese to buy a car in 1934

Mr. Le was the first Vietnanese to buy a car in 1934

Every year he took his wife and children to different touristic sites in the country.

He was rich in kindness. The famine in 1945 killed many people from his company. He offered free porridges every day to wandering people, especially who came from his and his wife hometown. Many of the survivors later gratefully welcomed his family each time they saw his car heading to Co Le village.

During the occupation by the Chinese army (1945), there was an officer who was jealous with a Vietnamese that kept exchanging money with girls on the neighborhood so that officer hung that man and beat him with rifle butt to near death. To save him, Le Tien asked for intervention from the government to free this Vietnamese and then he succeeded and was forever appreciated.

In brief, Le Tien was a talented person with strong will. He had great a self-built career and nice traditional Eastern Asian family that were built on the basis of absorbing the Western lifestyle. He hated drinking alcohol and playing cards, it was unacceptable for his children and employees to play cards after the third day of each new lunar year.

He had wide relationships with many social classes such as Son Phung Giay Cuong label in Hang Da market, famous Dong Luong sweet soup, Han Bich family on 11 Hang Ma, Tan An pastries on Gia Long Street (Tran Hung Dao) which was also his wife’s family.

It was a pity for a person like that to die so soon with many uncompleted intentions and a lack of time to train successors. None of his sons continued the handed down family career because of their excitements for the revolution.  (“People’s Revolution” ~ 1945 – 1954) Mr. Tuoc was the only son who was similar to him in terms of business potential however he was incompatible with his father.

In 1950, the family returned to Hanoi. The Railway Department came back to order manufactured welding electrodes as well as plastic electric tapes but nobody could take over the handed down career. This technique was lost after unsuccessful tries of Tuyet and her husband.

This valuable French book of technique had lost its value.

Memoirs of LUONG THI THE

Mrs. Luong Thi The was born in 1903 and died on the sixteenth day of the fourth month ofLuong Thi 1985 (based on the lunar calendar) at number 16 of Son Tay Street. She was born in Ngoc Lang Village, My Hao District, Hung Yen Province. She was the oldest daughter of Mr. Luong Van Cap and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Bien.

Luong Van Cap was a soldier who helped the military to build villages in the North. Therefore, all people there were named after his family name to show their gratefulness. Nguyen Thi Bien was a trader who lived in Hang Dong, Hang Sat, Hang Long near Hang Co station (near Southern Street) where many of their relatives also settled. They had nine children: Luong Thi The, Luong Van Tang, Luong Bao Loc, Luong Van Tuy, Luong Van In, Luong Thi Sau, Luong Van Bay, Luong Van Tinh (Tam), Luong Thi Phuong.

Cu Luong van CapAccording to oral history about Cu Luong van Cap:

“For his actions it is said that he received honors from the Emperor. The formal attire he is wearing in photograph is Hanfu and worn at court. The Chinese characters on his left may be a certification bestowed by the Emperor.”

Memoirs of Luong Thi The’s life

She was a beautiful girl in the village. And, her parents were smart enough so at the age of 19 she could marry Le Tien who was a middle age widower and three innocent children: Le Thi Ty, Le Van Tuoc, Le Thi Tuat. She was scared of possible responsibility but her parents encouraged and wanted her to marry him. Continue reading