Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The War Remnants Museum

I (Chuck) took solo excursion to the Vietnam War Remnants Museum this afternoon. The museum used to be called The American War Crimes Museum, and it has a pointed anti-American perspective to the war - with some evidence to back it up. I am a big fan of perspective, especially in teaching history, and I took the museum and its exhibits with a proverbial grain of salt. I think I was the only American in the museum at the time, and I found myself looking around for reactions of people as I examined the photos, remnants, and artifacts from the war. Obviously the Vietnamese have a different perspective on the war and American involvement, and I don't think any of the combatants would agree that the war (or any war) is better than peaceful resolution. I also could see through the heavy propaganda in many facets of the exhibit, and I hope that all visitors from any country can see the bias as well. Overall, it was a difficult and somewhat emotional hour and a half, but very valuable and one that I can share with students in the future.

My biggest issue with the museum is the selling af American dog tags in the gift shop. I thought about complaining, thought about buying all of them and trying to have them returned, thought about finding another American to discuss it ... but I let it go by walking out of the museum and thinking about it on my travel back to the hotel. Before I left, I did look at some of the local childrens' pictures of their view of war and peace ... a fitting ending to my visit.

I took pictures and some video of some of the exhibits. Many of the photos were ghastly - some for real impact, some for shock value - and I chose not to take those images on camera.


  1. Chuck, I am reading your amazing post and thinking "go back and get the dog tags!" Why did you decide not to buy them? That must have been hard to walk away from...and to keep your perspective.

  2. this was a thoughtful post. as hard as it must have been, i think you did the right thing by walking away.

  3. Sounds like an interesting museum/epxerience. I agree that it would be emotional. The skeptic in me wonders if the dog tags are genuine.