Judy Visits Vietnam: 2019, 2013 and 1970

In 1970, I visited Vietnam on a Yippie women's trip. I returned in January 2013 to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords. Six years later, in July 2019, I returned to promote a book - The People Make the Peace. You will discover in this book and in these pages my personal experiences, thoughts, impressions and photos about how the anti-war movement supported Vietnam 50 years ago and continues to do so today.


Judy's Diary - Vietnam 2019


July 5, 2019 - Ha Noi Day 1

Hanoi has changed since I was there in 2013; it’s more cosmopolitan & is dotted with huge construction projects, built and financed I believe by Japanese business interests. Picture 1 is a ceremony at Hoa Lo prison where McCain was kept. I and others presented anti-war memorabilia for the prison’s archives. The government goal now, as I picked it up, is peace and reconciliation on all sides. The man in the blue shirt fought at Tet; behind me is a Confucian scholar coming home. Below is our delegation with Ambassador Chien in the yellow shirt, president of the Vietnam USA Society. At our lunch, it was clear to me the Ambassador had absorbed the art of toasting in his long service in Russia. And the USA. The pics at the end are of the infamous Hanoi Hilton and a gentle former pilot, last name Chenowith, who was imprisoned there and is now profoundly anti-war. MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS? Our activism against the war is truly appreciated and honored. Now the Vietnamese seek comprehensive partnerships with other nations to continue their economic expansion. Is this a contradiction? Stay tuned.



July 7, 2019 - Ha Noi Day 3


What a greeting I received today with Do Le Chi Le and his family — especially Chi’s daughter Thu Do. Chi is the youngest son of my dear late friend Do Xuan Oanh (pic is his self portrait). And Oanh’s youngest sister Dzung It was the warmest of family reunions with a family I had never met. Sunday I toured the spectacular river and caves of Ninh Binh, perhaps an hour from a strip mine and Americanized rest stop food sold at Friendship Village which cares for Vietnam’s vets and children disabled by Agent Orange. Such are the contradictions of modernizing Vietnam. There’s more to come.



July 10, 2019


What a greeting I received today with Do Le Chi Le and his family — especially Chi’s daughter Thu Do. Chi is the youngest son of my dear late friend Do Xuan Oanh (pic is his self portrait). And Oanh’s youngest sister Dzung It was the warmest of family reunions with a family I had never met. Sunday I toured the spectacular river and caves of Ninh Binh, perhaps an hour from a strip mine and Americanized rest stop food sold at Friendship Village which cares for Vietnam’s vets and children disabled by Agent Orange. Such are the contradictions of modernizing Vietnam. There’s more to come.

July 12, 2019


After an exquisite lunch today at Home Hanoi. Is Hanoi a new foodie capital in the world? Photo by Karin Aguilar St. John.



July 13, 2019


With Nguyen Thi Tuyet, Vice President of the Vietnam Women’s Union. At the Women’s Museum I am surrounded by children asking questions from a prepared list. How old are you? Very old -76! Where you live? What’s your favorite color? (Red and black) What’s your favorite animal? (Camel) They were practicing English! Followed by photos of the new Hanoi with multi-story apartment and office buildings. Vietnam is changing rapidly from the one I visited in 2013, let alone 1970, and is doing all it can in a period of rapid population growth and industrialization to strengthen its commitment to peace and reconciliation.



July 22, 2019


The culmination of my trip to Hanoi - I and everyone in our delegation - Frank Joyce, Mary Anne Barnett, Alex Hing and Karin Aguilar-San Juan - got awarded the Vietnam/USA Medal for Peace and Friendship Among Nations. For our anti-war activism and for the publication in Vietnamese of “The People Make the Peace” (www.justworldbooks.com). Don’t you just love the Soviet-style design? But where in the world will I wear it? Kidding aside, it really is an honor for which I am very grateful.

Book launch update to the Hanoi Ten and friends

by Frank Joyce

Warm greetings—or perhaps I should say hot.

First things first. The launch of the Vietnamese edition of THE PEOPLE MAKE THE PEACE—LESSONS FROM THE VIETNAM ANTIWAR MOVEMENT was a huge success. The room was packed with students, dignitaries and more. They had to send out for more books. Karin and Frank participated in a salon style discussion about the book (see news photo below). There was extensive media coverage. This example is in English:



It’s fair to ask why the launch was taken so seriously. As some of you know, my own view (this report is from Frank so I hope others weigh in), is that the movement that opposed the US invasion of Viet Nam has an inferiority complex. Many—actually most, I think—of those who participated in the antiwar movement have drunk gallon after gallon of the Kool-Aid served up by Forrest Gump, Ken Burns, the NYT, the Pentagon and others that the movement didn’t really mean much of anything.

The Vietnamese know better. Which is why they continue to honor and uplift the antiwar movement. And why they published THE PEOPLE MAKE THE PEACE LESSONS FROM THE VIETNAM ANITWAR MOVEMENT in Vietnamese. And why there is an extensive exhibit at the Hoa Lo Prison Museum (known to many as the Hanoi Hilton) about the anti-war movement that is drawing large crowds. And why they want US Americans, especially those who opposed to the war to come to Viet Nam in 2020 to observe three significant anniversaries. (see below for more on that). And why, in addition to daily news coverage of our delegation, the TV network followed and interviewed all of us extensively for a documentary that will come later.

The Vietnamese genuinely appreciate the role the antiwar movement played in helping them defend their country and want young Vietnamese to know about it.

Other trip highlights
Medal awards—On the same day as the book launch we all received the award of “For peace and friendship among nations” medal from the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) in recognition of contributions to peace and friendship between the two countries.

Agent Orange/UXO— We had several meetings to get the latest information of war legacies including a visit to Friendship Village, a meeting with Chuck Searcy, and briefings from VAVA and from the Defense Ministry. At the Defense Ministry we reviewed a power point presentation that clearly and concisely explains the history and current situation. It is attached as a PDF and I urge everyone to go through it and to use it in any presentations you may be doing.

There were several other meetings and briefings including with the Deputy Foreign Minister for the Americas which was especially candid and far reaching. We learned about the much escalated build up of Chinese military forces in what we call the South China Sea (or as Karin calls it, the West Philippine Sea); Vietnam’s pride in having good relations with all countries and how the trade surplus that Trump has complained about is mostly the result of production of goods for export by big appliance foreign based manufacturers like Samsung and LG.

Food and fun—First about food. Once our translator and guide Ms. Nga learned that Alex was a chef and several of us are foodies she went out of her way to find interesting places for us to eat. The Hanoi food scene is exploding and in addition to a “state-of-the art” Vegetarian restaurant, we ate fabulous Indian, Italian and Vietnamese Food. Nga was fun and informative to be with throughout the trip. Karin and Alex took a side trip to Sa Pa that they are still talking about. Judy, Mary Anne and Frank visited Ninh Binh, a historic site of early Viet Nam (circa 900-1,000) and went in small boats down a river that is a scenic interior version of Ha Long Bay. Just being out and about in Hanoi was itself amazing as always. It’s hard to understate the sheer energy of the place.

Photographs—naturally there are many pictures from and about every place we went. We hope to get them in a Dropbox file accessible to all. If there is any event you are particularly interested in let me know. For now though my favorite is this picture of Judy with Mr. Nghi [ed: see below].

Post Trip media—Shortly after our return Jay Craven, Judy and Frank did an hour-long Vermont Conversation show with David Goodman. Here is a link if you want to listen: https://vermontconversation.com/2019/07/22/4769/ Other speaking engagements and media appearances are in the works.

How to get a Vietnamese edition book—For those who don’t already have one, please send Frank a snail mail address and it will be on its way.

2020 events
Following is a description from Mr. Nghi in a recent email to Sally Benson about activities coming up in 2020. They are very interested in having US Americans attend and especially those who were in contact with the Vietnamese in Hanoi, Paris, Montreal or other locations during the war. We will keep you informed about additional details as they become available.

From Nghi:
As you know, in 2020, there will be special year for the Vietnam-US relations 45th Anniversary of the end of war and celebration of peace and national reunification of Vietnam (April 30, 1975-2020), 25th Anniversary of the Normalization of Vietnam-US diplomatic relations (July 12, 1995-2020) and 75th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Vietnam-American Friendship Association, now Vietnam-USA Society. (October 17, 1945-2020). We at VUS/VUFO will organize some grant activities and would like to invite and host many friends/partners as organizations and individuals from the USA to Vietnam, to celebrate and discuss for the current and future activities/programs for enhancing the relations and cooperation between our two people and countries. We also take the chance to express our thanks to your goodwill, efforts and contribution to Vietnam and the US-Vietnam relations and cooperation in various period of time by many American friends and partners. We think to invite peace activists during the war, friendship groups, and veterans and their families in many groups and son and daughter generations. On the occasion, we want to confer different kinds of awards to you as Medal of peace and friendship and Certificate of Merit/Commendation (from VUFO and VUS), Order of Friendship (from our President of Vietnam) our friends/partners as individuals and groups.


2013 and 1970