Philosophy of this site
"No 'healing', no apologies, no memorials, nothing can possibly compensate for the damage done and the pain inflicted....The only thing we can possibly do, twenty years too late, is to try and tell the truth."
Historian Eric Bergerud (UC Berkeley) wrote the above passage in his second book, "Red Thunder, Tropic Lightning". His first, based on his dissertation, was a scathing indictment of the American war in Vietnam. But as he began to collect oral histories from members of the 25th Infantry Division for "Red Thunder", he began to doubt the accepted "conventional wisdom" regarding US combat troops.
The problem, of course, is that there is no one TRUTH about the Indochina Wars. Instead, many different truths coexist and compete. To be sure, there are facts, a myriad of them - the tonnage of bombs dropped by the US during the war, for example. But facts, while useful and necessary, do not lead to understanding without a framework, a matrix, upon which to place them. And there is the rub. In analyzing and making sense of fact, cultural and social reality is constructed. By this process, past events and actions become part of the historical sense of self of a society. In the case of the Indochina Wars, there are many such realities, each with its own truth, each with its own understanding. The sense of self connected with these wars is still very much a contested issue in many of the countries that participated in them.
The purpose of the Vietnam War Internet Project is to explore all of these realities. At this site, we have tried to present, or at least link to, as many of these points of view as possible. We offer here official documents, personal narratives and oral histories, analysis, and bibliographies to assist readers in search for understanding
One of the aspects of this site is the archives of the USENET newsgroup soc.history.war.vietnam. Besides containing important historical facts and first-person narratives, these archives chronicle the ongoing division of viewpoints about the Indochina Wars and how they are remembered. For this aspect alone, they represent an important socio-cultural resource for those seeking to understand the continuing influence of Vietnam on various societies and sub-cultures. Indeed, new issues continue to boil up - the US pow/mia controversy comes to mind.
The debates concerning the wars will not occur without rancor, and understanding (if not acceptance) of other views does not come easily. For those now in college, most of the Indochina / Vietnam Wars occurred before they were even born. Yet on a deep and visceral level, the unresolved nature of the societal understandings of the wars creates a tension, an unhealed rent in the fabric of society festering below the surface, weakening the sense of just who it is we are.
It is our hope that, to some small degree, this site will serve to facilitate the process of understanding. New material is constantly added, links constantly updated. We also actively solicit new material for this site, either text or image. If you have images or an unpublished paper / article on any topic related to the war, you are encouraged to submit it by e-mail to the webmaster at vwip-vwip.org. Previously published material will also be accepted, providing it is out of print, and the person submitting it currently owns the copyright.
We hope that you find this site both useful and informative.