17:05 | 05/05/2016 Society
US State Secretary John Kerry delivered a keynote address at the Viet Nam War Summit at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, last Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) at the Vietnam War Summit held on April 27, 2016, at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas at Austin — Photo flickr.com
Speaking to an audience of nearly 1,000 war veterans, politicians, journalists covering the Viet Nam War and professionals, he said an important lesson of the Viet Nam War is that Americans should put themselves in the shoes of other people and “see their country as they see their country”. In other words, he said, “We cannot look at other countries and see them only through an American lens.”
The official noted “the incredible openness of the Vietnamese people, who helped us search for the remains of our fallen troops even as the vast majority of theirs, a million strong probably, would never be found.” He said the process of reconciliation is not about forgetting because “if we forget, we cease to learn.”
Kerry added that relations between the US and Việt Nam have changed drastically since they normalised ties 20 years ago.
While the number of US visitors to Viet Nam has risen from 60,000 to half of a million, nearly 19,000 Vietnamese students are pursuing their studies in the US, up from 800. Bilateral trade revenue has also rocketed from US$400 million to $45 billion.
He also acknowledged the differences between the two countries, but “the difference is that we actually talk about them.”..
John Kerry received many medals while being on active duty in the US Navy during the Việt Nam War. After returning from military service, however, he became an anti-war protestor and joined in a series of large-scale demonstrations against the war in Việt Nam in 1971.
The Việt Nam War Summit that ran April 26–28 was to shed light on the war, its lessons and legacy.
It took place just days before the 41st anniversary of the end of the war and on the threshold of US President Barack Obama’s official visit to Viet Nam in late May. The Secretary of State will also accompany the President during this visit./.