RANDY READS: Mme. Nguyen Thi Binh was a leader during the Paris Peace Talks from 1968 to '73. As a young woman, she organized against the French occupation, was imprisoned, and nearly executed. After the war, she served for a decade as Education Minister and then two terms as Vice President. Today, along with many other projects, Mme. Binh tirelessly supports those among three generations of Agent Orange victims.
Judy and I have known each other since our time in Berkeley in the late 60s. In 1970, we each separately visited North Viet Nam. When I returned to Viet Nam in 2013, I met with Mme. Binh, who gave me a copy of her autobiography. Since then, I have worked with Mme. Binh's translator in Hanoi, Lady Borton, to help with revisions for an updated version. Our reading tonight is selected from this version.
JUDY READS: I also returned to Vietnam in 2013, with a delegation invited to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords. As we travelled from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, we were greeted with signs that read “Warm welcome to the peace and anti-war activists.” Over and over, people thanked us for our efforts to help shorten the war and bring about peace. This I know: such appreciation was meant not just for our tiny group, but for all of you and for the millions of us who marched against the war. Protest does indeed have power.