The things they returned
June 25, 2009 11:18 AM   Subscribe

In 1970, while burning captured enemy documents with no military intelligence value, Fred Whitehurst came across a tiny diary. Advised not to burn it by his translator, he kept it and took it with him to America when his tour was over. Thirty five years later, the diary came back home.

That diary belonged to Dang Thuy Tram (she went by her middle name Thuy), a young doctor from the North. Freshly out from medical school, she followed the NVA down South and set up a clinic in Quang Ngai province, one of the fiercest battle ground in Vietnam (this is where My Lai happened). Young, idealistic and passionate, she wrote about her patients, her desires to join the Communist party, her childhood love, and most of all about her longing for family and friends:
More links:
Scan of the diary: (In Vietnamese)
Last night I dream of Peace Translated by Andrew X.Pham, author of Catfish and Mandala
Audio interview with the Whitehurst brothers and excerpts from the diary
Women in war: Radio interview with Fred Whitehurst
How the two families bonded

Previously on things returned by old enemies.
posted by LenaO (5 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This is good.
posted by chunking express at 11:23 AM on June 25, 2009

A few more articles with excerpts to the diary if anybody’s interested here here and here
Also I really do believe it is entirely possible that the man who returned the photo knew this story and was encouraged by how the Whitehurst brothers were embraced by the Dang family.
posted by LenaO at 11:24 AM on June 25, 2009

Some things I find interesting.

1.) Every time the man (who found the diary) is going to say something nice about the Vietnamese, as a precursor he reiterates how much he is not a pacifist and how much he agrees with war (even when he states clearly that there must be a better way.)

2.) The diary came to him in two parts? And he only said this after someone pointed out that he said he got it in 69 and the last entry is from 1970?

3.) The mother was presented with a copy instead of the original? Cold.

4.) They say 'the diary' but wouldn't it be TWO diaries, if he found it in two parts? I'm a little lost there.
posted by Malice at 11:39 AM on June 25, 2009

"Don't burn this has fire in it already."

posted by HabeasCorpus at 11:55 AM on June 25, 2009

The original are at the Vietnamese archives in Lubbock Texas; the mother and daughters were flown there and were able to look at them there. The diaries have been published and are a sensation in Vietnam.

“I want so much a mother’s hand to care for me. Love me and give me strength to travel the hard sections of the road ahead.”

As the mother of a seven month old daughter this one touched me deeply.
posted by zia at 6:07 AM on June 27, 2009

« Older Farrah Fawcett dies at age 62.   |   Michelangelo Antonioni's "Zabriskie Point" Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments