"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding watercolor, metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A "Red" state's flags and impact on America

Among the readers of this blog are citizens of another of the real "red" states, Vietnam, a country with a long history of invasion, colonization, and war, again deeply involved in American history and now culture.
For my generation, Vietnam went from someplace we'd never heard of to a years-long nightmare for the country and thousands of servicemen and families. That country has had a huge influence on America.
Vietnam first gained independence from China in 938 and flourished until the mid-1800s when the French occupied and colonized by the French. Today's flag, with the yellow star on the communist red background, was first used in 1940 in a communist uprising against the French, and later in 1941 against the Japanese in WWII. Ho Chí Minh declared Vietnam independent in 1945 and it became the flag of North Vietnam in 1954 after the French were defeated and the country divided.
The flag of South Vietnam
That's when the yellow flag with three red stripes--for the country's tree main divisions, became the flag of South Vietnam, the one that adorns U.S. veterans'  combat medals today. Fearing Communism and the so-called "domino theory," the US was drawn into the country's conflict less than five years later, to repeat the French mistakes. Those were the years, in the mid- 1960s to the early 1970s,  I lived in fear of the mailbox bringing a draft notice. I wouldn't have run, and came close to serving. Ironically, my final deferment is now a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
With the capture of Saigon, the American retreat,  the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 and the reunification of the country, the red flag now flies,  the red background of the communist part honoring the Paris commune of 1871, symbolizing blood and revolution with the yellow star representing the unity of workers, peasants, intellectuals, youths and soldiers in building socialism.After the war the country languished but initiated free-market reforms beginning in 1986 to become a robust Socialist country, with a burgeoning American tourist trade.
Some American notes on the effects of Vietnam:
  • The war divided America politically as much as Vietnam was divided. 
  • Thousands of Americans who fought and died in that war are named individually on the stunning Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. 
  • The war is still with us. Sen. John McCain, and newly appointed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are both survivors and veterans. Servicemen still hate Jane Fonda, "Hanoi Jane."
  • Among the healthiest, hardest working, most vibrant and growing populations in America are the Vietnamese. You have to look no further than the "Asian District" of Oklahoma City around Classen and 23rd to see.
  • Conclusion: fresh blood  and diversity revitalizes and energizes America. But the costs to both countries has been huge.  
"French" Indochina in 1913--including what is now Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia 

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