Exhibition shows wartime letters and diaries

In a letter sent from the battlefield to her mother in 1968, war martyr Vo Thi Tan wrote, “Bombs can shake mountains, but they can’t stir our will and hearts, my dear mother.”
Looking to the past: Wartime letters and diaries depict the hardships of the war and people’s strong will to gain liberation.(Source:VNA)
Looking to the past: Wartime letters and diaries depict the hardships of the war and people’s strong will to gain liberation.(Source:VNA)
It’s one among many letters and diaries on display at an ongoing exhibition at the Vietnam Military History Museum in Hanoi, which is organised to celebrate the Reunification Day (April 30).
The exhibition, titled Letters and Diaries of Wartime, introduces 200 letters and diaries, with accompanying pictures, written in the resistance wars against the Americans and French.
“These documents will help people comprehend the depth of emotion, optimism, belief, and determination of the soldiers who overcame the hardships and sacrifices necessary for national independence,” said museum’s director Nguyen Xuan Nang.
The exhibition comprises two parts featuring letters and diaries sent during the wartime.
“It aims to educate the public, as well as to encourage members of the armed forces, especially the younger generation, to revisit the revolution’s tradition, and reinforce patriotism, national pride and a determination to safeguard the country in a new era,” he said.
These letters were a means for the soldiers on the battlefield to exchange information and express emotion to their families and loved ones back home.
Due to the devastation of the war, many letters couldn’t be sent to the receivers. Sometimes, it took many years to deliver the letters. Many of them were old, worn out, and blurred upon being delivered.
“Most of the letters depict the hardships of the wartime, as well as a strong spirit to overcome the difficulties of war, and a constant hope to reunite with loved ones once the country was liberated,” said Nang.
The exhibition displayed handwritten diaries of soldiers on the front, some of which include sketches.
They are notes about life, fighting, studying, and thoughts of soldiers on the front or loved ones back home.
“These diaries are reliable historical sources about life, time, place, and the devastation of the war,” said Nang.
Nguyen Ba Hanh, a soldier from Military Zone 5, which protected the southern central region, wrote in his diary: “The war can destroy everything except the people’s ideal, the desire for peace and the strong will of Ho Chi Minh’s soldiers.”
Among the objects, the diary of war martyr Nguyen Van Nam (1952-72) is showcased to the public for the first time. US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter handed the diary to the then-Minister of Defence Phung Quang Thanh in 2015. Carter said the belongings of Nam had been lost for 43 years in the US. He said the US military had hoped the personal effects would be returned to the dead soldier’s family, to soothe the hurt of the past. In this way, two peoples can look forward to a brighter future, he said.
The exhibition will run until May 15 at the Vietnam Military History Museum, located at 28A Dien Bien Phu street, Hanoi.

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