The Vietnam War ended decades ago, but its impact on the Vietnamese people still remains. The heavy bombing mission, the chemical warfare, and the mark of war on veterans still have strong effect on Vietnamese citizens.

In the air warfare, American forces dropped more than eight million tons of explosives in both urban and rural areas. In the urban areas, any remaining bombs have been deactivated. However, there are not enough resources to diffuse remaining bombs in the rural areas. When farmers attempt to revive the areas to plant crop, they unfortunately detonate some of these bombs and suffer heavy injuries. In addition, children mistake these bombs as toys, which results in many casualties.  In Vietnam, the main source of income for people in poverty is agricultural. These remaining bombs prevent farmers from reviving their lands and making a living.

The chemical warfare has the most devastating effect on Vietnamese people and plants. The toxin, which was used in the war, was “Agent Orange.” The toxic chemical was sprayed on the field by airplanes. The “Agent Orange” objective was to eradicate plants along with any living organism in the intended area. Originally, the chemical was used to kill the forest and draw out the Vietcong, but its side effect is hard to ignore. Throughout the war, close to two million acres of agricultural land and forest were destroyed. The “Agent Orange” effect is still visible to human eyes. This toxic chemical also has the ability to cause mutation in human genes. Many children who were born in affected areas are deformed and have many disabilities.

Last but not least, war always comes with human casualties. The war not only reduced the Vietnamese population, but also took a toll on the war veterans. American soldiers had the proper equipment for war, but the Vietnamese soldiers did not. Therefore, Vietnamese soldiers suffered heavy casualties. However, because of the lack of medical supply and the lack of necessary medical knowledge, many soldiers did not have the appropriate treatments and are still suffering from those wounds today. The new government did not have the resources to take care of disabled veterans and they become jobless. These soldiers eventually begin living in poverty.

The war ended and the world moved on. However, the effect of this war still remains and is still visible like it was just yesterday.

Phong Pham

Sources: History Learning, University of Illinois, War Legacies
Photo: Southwest Desert Lover