A Little Dinner Party in Ba Ria…


Not as young, not as lean; just as tough and twice as mean!!!

In August, 2011, my lovely wife, Hoang Thi Lan, and I were honored by a visit from some family members from Quang Nam Province, near Da Nang. There was her mother, Ly, one of her cousins, one of her sisters-in-law with her son and her father’s sister. Lan’s dad passed in 1999.

We went to the restaurant of my dear friend and comrade-in-arms, Pham Van Nhan. Actually, Nhan’s daughter runs the place now and Nhan concentrates on his writing and his Scouts.

During the meal, Nhan was overcome by the muse, beer and the lovely company and gave voice. Lan accompanied him as the rhythm section using chop sticks on bowls and singing along. Lan also plays guitar and sings.

The amazing thing is not the singing but the party itself. There was a time when Nhan and I and others like us hunted and were in turn hunted by Lan’s family and others like them. Fortunately we all operated in different areas otherwise, this happy occasion might never have happened.

Lan in Long Hai.

My wife, Hoang Thi Lan.

Nhan and I served with the 9th Infantry Division Long Range Patrol while Lan’s family, Father, Uncles, Mother and Aunts were Viet Cong or NVA. All carry scars; some more visible than others. Yet, here we sit, enjoying a fine meal, good drink and singing together. There is hope for us as a race… just maybe.

The point is, after is all said and done and the battlefields are cleared and plowed for planting or cemeteries, we can come to see each other as just folks. Sadly, I feel a closer affinity, tolerance and civility toward, and from, my former enemies than I do to many of my fellow countrymen of either political persuasion. Maybe we should shoot at each other more. We can respect courage but the vile nature of the rhetoric on both sides is just pissing people off and hardening our respective stances without regard to logic, reason or consequences. We have much to learn. Unfortunately it behooves our Powers That Be that we remain at odds and expend our energies, time and resources shouting each other down rather than casting critical eyes on those we have let speak for us and holding them accountable for the crisis du jour. Jus’ sayin’.

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