WEEK 8: FRIDAY

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Love for Country

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

 

Traveling is usually seen as one of the most exciting activities anyone can do. Imagine seeing a new destination with a culture and history completely dissimilar from where we come from. Imagine smelling aroma of flavors that we never thought possible. Imagine seeing the colors of marketplaces that are brimming with cultural uniqueness. Imagine meeting heroes whose lives were given in full service to their nation.

In Asia, Vietnam is a destination that evokes a sense of mystery as its history is filled with stories of foreign occupations, war, insurrections, and grave injustice committed by imperial rulers. Vietnam was historically a victim of hundreds of years of occupation by China, France and the United States of America. In fact, the Vietnamese today is the first generation that does not have its own experience of war or invasion.

 A trip to Ho Chi Minh City will reveal a new and vibrant kind of Vietnamese citizenry. Immediately after the Vietnam War, Vietnam was a nation condemned to perennial poverty and shame. It was widely viewed that Vietnam would not recover, at least not within a hundred years. Vietnam today stands as a nation ready to take on the world. The ambitious Southeast Asian country has successfully taken over Thailand as the world’s largest rice exporter and is now setting its eyes on overtaking Brazil as the world’s largest exporter of coffee beans.

Vietnam’s rise can be easily attributed to the Vietnamese people’s hard work and determination. However, one secret that led to the rise of Vietnam is the nation’s decision to never forget the heroes that fought for their nation’s freedom. The Vietnamese today still fondly refers to the great Ho Chi Minh as “Uncle Ho.” Another hero that the Vietnamese people hold dear to their hearts is the young female guerrilla fighter Vo Thi Mo. Her story was a testament of different kind of courage that the Vietnamese women possessed during the worst of times. Vo Thi Mo commanded two dozen other young female guerrillas during a time when potable water was scarce and the most reliable source of animal protein were the rats within the Cu Chi Tunnels. The female guerrillas under Vo Thi Mo were confronted by the choice to either use the available water for cooking or for the washing of their clothes. For the female guerrillas, the choice was not easy. Most of them thought that getting themselves clean was better than feeding themselves. Some of them even gave birth in the Cu Chi Tunnels while the land above them was being bombarded by napalm and countless other bombs. Whatever available clean water was considered gold by the women fighters of Cu Chi. However, when the Americans discovered that clean rainwater trapped in bomb craters were being used by women for drinking and bathing, they placed carcasses of animals into the craters to taint the water and effectively make the lives of the female guerrillas doubly harder.

The female guerrillas under Vo Thi Mo, in the midst of the greatest discomfort, did not give up. They continued the fight for the freedom of their nation and eventually defeated the United States of America, the greatest empire and military superpower the modern world has ever known.

The story of Vo Thi Mo and her female guerrillas is the secret to the rise of Vietnam. Their legacy to the next generation of their nation was a spirit of courage that does not fear defeat. Today, Vo Thi Mo is still alive and her greatest souvenirs from the Vietnam War were the scar across her chest and the embedded bullet in her arm. Her service and sacrifice for her country made Vietnam, though geographically small, one of the nations to watch out for in the whole world.

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