Below are some pictures that I took when I went to Vietnam in 2005, which was the first time my parents saw "home" since they left in 1975. The images more or less illustrate city life in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and life in the countryside. I felt that it would be interesting for people to look at some photos and view the results of a communist nation. Keep in mind, in the early 1990s, Vietnam underwent an economic reform policy called Doi Moi that loosened restrictions and allowed free-market enterprise. While people now have the ability to make more money, the civil liberties, of which Professor Potter mentioned today, are still tightly restricted.
This is the South Vietnam Presidential Palace, the primary government building during Diem's presidency. It's still used today for governmental functions, but it also serves as a tourist site.
This was the tank that the Viet Cong used to actually break down the gate in front of the Presidential Palace during the final battle.
...and I suppose that these are NVA veterans(?)
Below are images from the countryside (in a town called Ben Tre), which better illustrate the levels of poverty in Vietnam.
Lastly, as mentioned in class today, it is an ancient custom in Vietnam to live close to the remains of your ancestors. This is the tomb of my great-grandmother, which is in a gated plot behind my cousin's house in Vietnam.
For anyone who is interested in knowing more about Vietnam's history (before or during the Vietnam War), I highly recommend Stanley Karnow's Vietnam, A History. Karnow does a very good job in illustrating several key areas, including Ho Chi Minh's development as a leader and the ultimate coup against Diem.
-- Andrew Huynh