Message from the ‘Hearts for Peace’ collection

Thursday, 2020-05-07 17:31:45
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Italian women join a protest against the war in Vietnam (Photo: Vietnam Women’s Museum)
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NDO – The Vietnam Women’s Museum is preparing for an online display entitled ‘Hearts for Peace’ on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Liberation of South Vietnam and National Reunification Day (April 30, 1975).

The 450 images, documents and objects on display are part of the collection of the same name preserved by the museum. They were donated to Vietnam by people and particularly women around the world during the country’s resistance war for national salvation against the US. The exhibits convey a message that peace is created from the heart, regardless of nationality and skin colour, let’s join hands and look towards peace.

The exhibits show that Vietnam was a of great concern to people all over the world more than 50 years ago. The US war encountered strong opposition from peace-lovers worldwide. Even in the US, many organisations and individuals flocked to the streets to protest, asking for and end to the war.

In particular, many American wives and mothers whose husbands, children and relatives were forced to be involved in the war, fought ceaselessly to bring their relatives home, alive and in one piece.

In California, the US, 15,000 people took part in marches against the war on October 15, 1965. In July 1965, women in Melbourne city, Australia opposed their government’s call-up for young men to join the war as mercenaries for the US army. In July 1969, in Marseille city, France, women held a meeting to inform the public about the resistance war of Vietnamese people.

In addition, people in many countries across the globe including the US, Germany, France, Japan, China and Australia positively participated in demonstrations to voice their opposition to US involvement in the Vietnam war. They hosted meetings and marches to protest against the war, issued publications, posters and handouts, and donated money to support Vietnam. All this was done in the hope that peace would be re-established in Vietnam.

There are many touching stories hidden behind the documents and objects, including a letter full of tears and torment sent to families of Vietnamese soldiers by a US mother. The letter was attached with an earring set that her son, a US naval soldier who served in Vietnam during the war, presented to her on his homecoming day.

Upon learning that the earrings were made from wedding rings he collected from fallen Vietnamese soldiers, the mother was heartbroken and in anguish and tried to return the earrings to Vietnam. She appealed for forgiveness and peace for her heart. She hoped this act could help ease the pain of the war and bring peace to everyone.

The donated objects are vivid illustrations of the good sentiment and kind actions of people worldwide towards Vietnam, which can be seen through albums and dolls made by the hands of German, French and Japanese people in order to raise funds for Vietnam.

Director of the Vietnam Women’s Museum, Nguyen Hai Van said that the documents and pictures told stories of people in different languages, all calling for an end to the war in Vietnam and conveying high hopes for peace in the country.

By naming the collection ‘Hearts for Peace’, the organiser wanted to appreciate and recognise the contributions and sentiments shared by international friends to Vietnam, she added.

However, the collection is not exhibited at the museum as scheduled due to fear of the COVID-19 epidemic. Instead, it has been updated and introduced to the public through the museum’s Facebook page and website to provide viewers with a look back at a historical period during which the world joined hands to bring peace to Vietnam. The world needs to continue standing together and joining hands, now more than ever, to overcome the epidemic like it once did to overcome war.

Selected photos and objects as part of the collection:

In July 1965, women in Melbourne city, Australia opposed their government’s call-up for young men to join the war as mercenaries for the US army

Japanese women donate money to support the Vietnamese people

A UK newspaper ran an article to protest the US’s bombing in Vietnam

France sent aid packages to Vietnam during the anti-US war

An earring set and a letter begging for forgiveness sent by Cecilia MGoto, the mother of a US naval soldier