13 October 2010

Quite The Show

"Show don't tell."

That's what every teacher and professor has instructed me to do with my words for as long as I can remember. Writing should paint a vivid picture with sensory statements and artfully incorporate detail.  It should establish a sense of place, so much so that the reader feel as if he or she is there.

It's often difficult to show rather than tell travel stories because they represent my individual perceptions. They are not generalizations about these places or these people; they are just my own experiences. In no way am I qualified to speak knowledgably about these cultures. I'm simply documenting the mere hours I was there.

As you read my blogging, specificially about Vietnam, I encourage you to keep in mind that these are my own experiences painted with colorful words. In order to explain the things that I saw and how I felt about them, I must write candidly.

I visited the War Remnants Museum in Saigon and joined a mass of other tourists to mill through it's sobering maze of artifacts, books, testimonials and photography about "The American War in Vietnam." The western world calls it "The Vietnam War." Enough said.

As I scanned war photography, an English woman came alongside of me to ask what information I'd learned about the war in American school, and I was ashamed to respond "not much." Sure "The Vietnam War" had been in my textbooks, but certainly not in the graphic detail I experienced at the museum that day. It was at that photography exhibit that the war became tangible to me, and this is what I wrote...

Images That Will Never Leave Me

A soldier doubled over magazine crates, sobbing. The photographer must have caught him taking a private moment.  

The black and white of an airplane lifting a dead American soldier from underneath. Bold and simple. While dead American soldiers were flown home, dead Vietnamese soldiers were left to die in the ruins.

An American soldier crouching in the grass to hold the bloody remains of a Vietnamese civilian. His face is ragged and torn. I have no words.

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