I’m squished in a taxi rushing through the tight streets of Hanoi’s western neighborhood. I’m riding with 6 of our Vietnamese partners, as we make our way to drop everyone off after a long day of Friendship Village budget meetings, agreement setting, and celebrations. I am an American, son of an American who fought in Vietnam. The oldest passengers in the taxi fought with the North Vietnamese Army. Mr. Nguyen Cao Cu, the director of education and vocational training at Vietnam Friendship Village, asks me something over the tired and joyful chatter. He wants to know where my father fought and when, and I tell him, Bien Hoa and the nearby firebases, ‘70-’72. Suddenly Mr. Cao Cu is laughing, and it’s not just vapors of the Russian vodka we toasted before our taxi ride home, he says, “I fought your father!”
I am filled with anxiety for what this election cycle means for the United States and the world. I am concerned about our national divide and fallout that may result from these divisions. I am concerned about the solutions to pertinent problems that will be lost in the chasm of these divisions. If anything this year has been illuminating.
I have broken bread and toasted with a man that fought my father on the field of battle. Today we work together to support the special education needs of innocent youth whose health problems stem from that conflict. Vice Director Nguyen and I could be deeply divided, enemies even, if not for the spirit of reconciliation and dedication to the hard, slow work of peace.
Dedication to peace work is the original intent of Veteran’s Day. In 1926 congress passed the resolution to set aside the 11th of November honoring the Armistice of World War I with these words…
“Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations…”
I have found great peace and personal growth from the work of goodwill and mutual understanding. There is immense power in working across divisions.
What will you do this week to perpetuate peace and mutual understanding?
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