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    The following classroom resource is offered to teachers who would like to use St. Anthony Messenger in the classroom. This resource is prepared with high school students in mind, but can be adapted for other age groups. We will feature one article for classroom use each month. Back issues, beginning in May 1997, contain a Teachers’ Guide. Teachers with access to computer labs should encourage students to access the article directly online. Students have our permission to print out a copy of the article for classroom use. We encourage you and your students to subscribe to the print edition of St. Anthony Messenger, where you will see all of the graphics, and more articles that you might find useful on a variety of topics. Please let us know how we can improve this service by sending feedback to

    "Vietnam Today: A Time of Healing"

    This resource guide will support curriculum in several areas:

    History--the era of the Vietnam War

    Social Studies--repairing the economy of postwar countries


    Idea One - Deepening Your Understanding of Postwar Economic Healing

    A. History of United States and Vietnam Relations--Context and Timelines

    1. To set a framework for understanding the history and economics that have prevailed between the two countries (and between France and Vietnam), guide your students in researching and constructing a timeline. See for reference to the 13-part documentary on Vietnam from PBS's The American Experience. This offers a thorough timeline, with added reference to paralleled events in American history. You'll find transcripts there of all 13 episodes, if you can't locate the videos or you can't wait for them to be rebroadcast.

    2. See also the home page for the theater production Miss Saigon at You can see a timeline of the Vietnam War, as well as study guides for teachers. The site features discussion questions and projects centered on the musical. One element focuses on the role of culture and tradition in understanding another country.

    3. For an additional overview of events in America which paralleled the Vietnam War, see the paperback book What Happened When, Gordon Carruth, Signet, New York, 1989. For example, in 1969:

    • U.S. combat deaths exceeded those from the entire Korean War.

    • American bombers dropped tons of bombs on the Vietnamese enemy positions.

    • At the Paris peace talks, negotiators argued about the shape of the table to be used in the talks.

    • The Civil-Rights movement still mourned the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King.

    4. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death is but one sign of the social unrest prevalent in America during the Vietnam War era. The violence of the war spawned a movement unlike anything seen during other 20th-century wars in America: aggressive peace efforts; anti-war protests; growth in nonviolent approaches to change; pacifism and draft dodging. Examples will include: the March on Washington; the freedom bus rides in Mississippi and other Southern states; the death of civil-rights workers; the assassinations of Medgar Evars, Malcolm X and other prominent black leaders; civil riots that followed King's assassination.

    Research and discussion sources on these topics will include the following Internet sites: This site contains a large Martin Luther King, Jr., resource, including a personal profile, a timeline, a photo tour of the Civil Rights Movement, and references to King's reliance on India's Gandhi for his nonviolent approaches to civil rights. You will also find three thought-provoking essays by journalists on King's influence and legacy. for a wide-ranging article titled "Notes on the Twentieth Century," by novelist Hans Koning, in The Atlantic Monthly. This includes reference to pacifism after World War I and during Vietnam., an online bookstore, for The Ethics of War and Peace, edited by Terry Nardin. Online you'll find a summary and table of contents for the book.

    B. National Development, the Lifting of the Trade Embargo, and the Appointment of the U.S. Ambassador: Major Steps in Vietnam's Economic Healing Process

    Your students can research how war-torn countries, whether winners or losers, put their economies back together after the conflict is ended.

    Searching the Internet under "Vietnam President William Clinton trade embargo" will provide several sources for constructing an outline of an economic development plan. See for an outline of the steps toward establishing and normalizing diplomatic relations between these two countries. Of special interest on this site is the text of the "Letters of Credence" presented by each of the countries to one another as they placed ambassadors in each other's country.

    You will see summaries of the steps Vietnam is presently taking to restore its economy by seeing Vietnam's American embassy's Web site: This site will explain the economic sectors involved: tourism; agriculture; oil, gas and mining; industry; and construction. These are some of the "signs of healing" the article's author refers to.

    To go a step further, apply the outline the students create for Vietnam to two other 20th-century wars the United States was involved in: World War II and Korea. Research the similarities and differences in how the United States worked with its wartime enemies once a truce was declared. For example, did the conditions that inspired the Marshall Plan following World War II have any parallel after the Vietnam War? For information on the Marshall Plan, see

    For a concise biography of Ho Chi Minh, the man so revered in Vietnam, see

    Idea Two - Vietnam's Postwar Spiritual and Emotional Healing

    A. Understanding Bitter Memories

    Teenagers know it's easy to say, "Forgive your enemies." They also know that, when hurt, most of us don't easily get beyond the pain to move to forgiveness. For those who lived through the injustice and suffering of the war in Vietnam, forgiveness is difficult. A powerful "walking billboard for friendship" is America's Ambassador Douglas Peterson, himself once a Vietnam combatant and prisoner of war. His generous forgiveness serves as a symbol of Christian love among former enemies.

    For those of us who have no experience of war, it can be hard to understand what needs to be forgiven. Ask your students to research and list five to 10 events or experiences that hurt each side in this war. For example, Vietnam was hurt by the slaughter at My Lai; the bombings by American planes; and the hundreds of fathered children left behind at war's end. (For more information on children who lost their fathers in the Vietnam War, see "Sons and Daughters of Vietnam's Dads" at The article is located in the archives section of the site in the June 1997 issue.) America was hurt by the Vietnamese prisons and the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) and the unknown status of those missing in action (MIAs).

    Once the students can identify specific pains of war, they can move toward a clearer understanding of the steps to forgiveness.

    B. Putting a Face to War and the Need for Forgiveness

    To appreciate how Americans still grieving their lost loved ones struggle to deal with their pain, see the Vietnam Veterans home page Here you'll find pictures and descriptive details on the impact of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Memorial Wall is a focus of healing for many.

    Direct your students to look at "Remembrance" on this site, then to "Peruse the Wall" for access to individual names. Your students can search the names on the Memorial Wall, either alphabetically or by state. The site provides details on each of the 58,202 deceased veterans listed on the Wall, telling their city of origin, when their tour of duty started, when they died and how. They may want to search for the name of a deceased relative, or a deceased veteran from their own town. They can request a free rubbing of a name from the Wall through the site as well.

    This site also offers poems and stories from several war veterans describing their experiences. (We caution you that there is some strong language in several of the poems.)

    Try also the History Channel's Web site: Here your students can identify one of their episodes called "Monuments to Freedom: the War Memorials." This is a video tour of the war memorials in Washington, D.C. The site also contains teacher guides for each episode, including vocabulary words, discussion questions and suggested research projects. According to the site, teachers can tape their episodes from TV and use them for up to one year. The site will give you broadcast schedules as well.

    Try also the book Hunger of the Heart: Communion at the Wall, by Larry Powell. This is a touching photo essay of the Vietnam Memorial. Note the photos of the mementos left behind at the Wall every day. The National Park Service has collected them, and they are now on display in the Smithsonian Museum (You can check out the Smithsonian Institution's Web site at Your students can discuss what these mementos tell us about the people still so deeply affected by the war and their visits to the Wall.

    For an unofficial picture of the people of Vietnam, see for a gallery of online photographs of life in Vietnam today. This site is presented by two private photographers. Use caution with the "Signs" section of the site, where one picture warning of the dangers of AIDS may be offensive to some.

    C. Active Steps to Forgiveness

    Years after the end of the war, perhaps moved by factors such as an appreciation of the humanity of the former enemy and by a need for economic healing and development, the two countries are now working to forgive one another. Direct your students in researching and listing specific actions being taken by each country to forgive and move forward.

    1. Vietnam's efforts at forgiveness of Americans -

    Their new rallying cry is: "Vietnam is not just a war; it's a country!" The Vietnamese have "...gotten beyond their wounds and tragic losses more quickly than the Americans," states the author of the article. This is demonstrated in:

    • the development of tourism

    • the acceptance of Ambassador Peterson, a former airman who once dropped bombs on their country

    • the invitation to writers to visit their country

    • the movement to establish international relations

    2. America's efforts at forgiveness of the Vietnamese -

    This is demonstrated by:

    • the social betterment efforts supported by Catholic Relief Services

    • the American veterans group from New York who contributed to building a new school in Vietnam

    • the lifting of the trade embargo

    Further Resources

    Try accessing some of these Internet sources for reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives. New York Times Los Angeles Times magazine —CNN —MSNBC —This site will take you to a number of online publications —The Associated Press Chicago Tribune magazine Washington Post


    Links Disclaimer:

    The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

    These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.

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