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Ho Chi Minh City's Famous War Remnants Museum

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City is the War Remnants Museum. I think it goes without specification that they are referring to the Vietnam War.

The War Remnants Museum was an interesting experience to say the least. The story of the United States' "War of Aggression" is much different from the one I learned in school. The museum, naturally, focused on opposition to the U.S.'s actions, which came from many foreign countries and millions of Americans alike. I definitely don't feel like I learned the extent of this in my history classes, but I also didn't go out of my way to take more than the required history classes. Either way, the museum definitely made me want to learn more about the war so I can form my own opinions, maybe from some less biased sources than American textbooks...

Outside the War Remnants Museum

Outside the museum, you can see some of the machinery used during the war, including a helicopter, tank, and bomber plane. There is also a massive 15,000-pound bomb, which was used to level sections of forest for helicopters to land.

Inside the War Remnants Museum

Inside, one thing that really struck me was the photographs. The quality of photography technology at the time of the Vietnam War made it such that there are many, absolutely horrifying photos available and on display at the museum. There were some taken at the time of the war, but many were portraits of people suffering physical deformities from the effects of Agent Orange. I honestly tried to avoid looking and focused more on the text. I sort of felt a responsibility as an American tourist in Vietnam to visit the museum, but it was definitely not the most enjoyable stop on my trip. I opted instead to photograph this sculpture made from bomb shrapnel called "Mother" and this display of anti-war posters.

Final Thoughts/Observations

The war had such a massive impact on the economy and psyche of Vietnam. For one thing, everyone we talked to in Vietnam spoke in terms of the country before and after the war. And even though there have been other wars and conflicts since, everyone called it "the war," which maybe shouldn't have surprised me. For another, this museum is prominently located in the city and was super busy for being mid-day during the week (The air conditioning was broken, too, so I can't even say people were escaping the heat.).

The political instability caused by the Vietnam War also led to internal turmoils like the Buddhist Uprising and conflict with neighboring countries like Laos and Cambodia. All in all, Vietnam is likely decades behind, in terms of economic development, where it otherwise would be, and this is something that, it seemed, people are very well aware of.


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