It is absolutely imperative that we, as Vietnamese people look ahead towards the future and towards new ways that we can make the glorious nation of Viet Nam one of the strongest nations in the world. The Vietnamese have proven, many times over, that we have the ability to be strong and the courage to face the world and say “Look. Viet Nam is here, Viet Nam is strong, and Viet Nam is an honorable nation. Let us not forget the war, but let us not dwell on it either.
Let us instead look to the future and prevent another such war.” When we Vietnamese are ready to say this the world will listen. Only then, however, can we say we are recovered from the war. For many people in Viet Nam and in the United States the war continues every day of their lives. It is fought with their minds and with their hearts. Let us end it. Now. Until this can happen our whole country is a Prisoner of War, a victim. It is time for us to stop being the victims and become the victors. My father used to tell me that as VNese we are inexplicably obsessed with past glories. We dwell in the past, hate the present, and never look towards the future. He and his generation had passed.
I urge all of you to look towards tomorrow. The advancement of the nation depends much on your efforts and the commitment to work together. Unite for the good of the nation. With ardent determination we shall overcome. This is a nation that has largely forgiven, if not forgotten, past transgressions. Its goal is not the settling of old scores but the pursuit of stability, prosperity and international acceptance, and Clinton’s visit is seen here as playing an integral part in that process My memories are filled with injured and dying American soldiers, and Vietnamese people who were wounded in the crossfires of war. I recall the sights, the sounds, the smell of war. There is peace here now.
The war is over. People around the world at all times should be making friendships, not war. Our bicycles have brought us, former enemies, together to reconcile and know each other better. On this trip I have witnessed extraordinary triumphs over adversity as the disabled veterans who are missing limbs, or their eyesight, bicycle or hand cycle with able-bodied people down the coast of Vietnam. Some say we must not dwell on the past, that we must move on. That is true, but we must always remember our past and never forget those men and women who sacrificed.
Learning history is extremely important, so that current and future generations do not follow the paths by which earlier generations chose to solve problems. For the majority of Vietnamese, who were born after the war, the apparent decision to downplay the celebration will be come as no great disappointment. Eagerly consuming western fashion and popular culture, young people are more concerned with attaining the material standards enjoyed elsewhere in the region than looking back to darker days.