Commemorating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
July 11 marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Over the last quarter century, our two countries have built a partnership and friendship founded on shared interests, mutual respect, and people-to-people ties. Our everyday interactions are highlighted by increasing trade and investment ties, strategic cooperation, and collaboration on humanitarian and legacy of war issues, including the solemn duty of accounting for our wartime missing. In recent years, we have strengthened and expanded our Comprehensive Partnership, based on a shared vision of a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region, as well as respect for each other’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political systems. We commend Vietnam for its outstanding Chairmanship of ASEAN this year, especially in coordinating ASEAN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and issues related to economic recovery.
The ties between the American and Vietnamese peoples grow deeper every year. America’s vibrant and engaged Vietnamese-American community makes our country strong and prosperous. We value the cross-cultural role played by the nearly 30,000 Vietnamese students studying in the United States and more than 1,200 Americans studying in Vietnam annually. We look forward to Fulbright University Vietnam graduating its first class of undergraduates in 2023. We also look forward to the imminent conclusion of an agreement that will bring Peace Corps volunteers to Vietnam for the first time ever, fostering stronger ties between our peoples.
The people of Vietnam have twice welcomed President Trump to Hanoi, and expressed their confidence in the President and the American people to work with our partners and allies to bring about a new era of prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. We are committed to that goal and to making the next 25 years of bilateral ties a model of international cooperation and partnership.
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I’ve worked in both Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Saigon South. For future Volunteers assigned to Vietnam they will find a people that are forward looking, though they would normally have fixed their gaze on the past. In the mid 1990s, the Communist Government issued an Open Tender, basically saying: we got the land; if you got the money, let’s talk. That soon led to a brand new city being built on a former mangrove swamp immediately adjacent to Ho Chi Minh–by a Taiwan Investment Group, which secured a 99-year lease. The Government didn’t object when they named it ‘Saigon South’. Commercial success leads to more successes. While Saigon South was under construction, a Japanese firm constructed a deep water port, allowing ships off the China Sea direct access to Saigon South. Another firm established a Tax Free Enterprise Zone, while another built a modern power plant. And a forth firm constructed a contemporary pharmaceutical production facility.
Not a single penny of foreign aid went into any of these projects. Today, Saigon South is a city of 1.2 million mixed use commercial residential, and public buildings. Every tourist ship that calls on Vietnam enters through the deep water port constructed by that Japanese firm–and they all end up calling on Saigon South.
Future Volunteers will find Vietnam to be a country that sees the future and isn’t waiting for any one to show it the way.
Maureen Orr and I, now her husband for 52 years, served in Vietnam during the war in 1967-1968. We were with USAID. Maureen’s a nurse and she worked at the Nha Trang Hospital, training other nurses and caring for patients. My job was as a Refugee Officer, in Nha Trang. Our office managed 13 provinces and their USAID Refugee Officers assigned to provinces. I traveled to all provinces in support of those Refugee Officers and their situations. Some got in tight spots and it was task to help them out. Maureen and I loved the Vietnamese people and attempted to adopt a 3-year-old boy; but the government of Vietnam wouldn’t allow us to do so. Vietnam was and still is a remarkable country. Jeremiah is right to say the Vietnam is a country that sees the future and waits for no-one to show the way. We would both like to return to Vietnam but we are in our 70’s and 80’s now and travel is not on our agenda.
I’ve recently completed the editing of my third novel, “Highway 1,” and wonder if you would be interested in receiving an electronic version of it? My fictional protagonist is “Walter Rossinger” who returns to Vietnam at age 64 for the first time following his medical evacuation during the Tet Offensive of 1968. His injuries result in selective amnesia and the loss of memory regarding his training in Special Forces as well as his military service in Vietnam during “the American War,” except for three names and one event. He and his wife, “Rose,” have travelled internationally but never to Southeast Asia. However, his family purchases a nonrefundable round-trip ticket because they feel it is time for him to see “the new Vietnam.” And so, reluctantly, Walter travels from Portland, Oregon, to Bangkok and on to Hanoi and south to HCMC (Saigon), arriving for Tet in 2011.
If you are interested in reading even a portion of the manuscript, I will welcome your comments and questions. Feel free, as well, to contact me with questions before deciding to accept my offer. This is a fictional account as I never served in the military but my wife, Paula, and I did visit Vietnam and the places included in the narrative. This is one of several books in “The Hillsdale Narratives” based upon living, working, and/or traveling to countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Latin America during our lives. Hillsdale neighborhood is where Paula and I live, but the characters are different fictional composites, the plots determined at some point during our separate trips.
Robert Hamilton (Bahar Dar, Ethiopia: 1965-67)
Robu43@gmail.com; Cell: 503-320-5994
This is great information!