My Korean Air flight touched down in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Saturday, March 5th, 23 hours after leaving Dulles Airport in DC. The two legs of my trip (through Seoul, South Korea) lasted 19 hours. Great colleagues are members of the delegation of which I am a part, sent to Vietnam by the Aspen Institute and the Ford Foundation to study lingerering affects of Agent Orange on the population here as well as on thousands of military personnel in the United States.
I landed in Vietnam with mixed feelings–eager for the experiences ahead on this first visit, but somber because of memories from years past. Friends died in this country, and others had their lives ruined. The public bitterness of those years and protests in the streets impacted all of us who experienced them in ways that made an impact on us that does not go away.
Already I have had a great conversation about religion in this land that our state department considers a major violator or religious freedom.