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January 30, 2004

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More Vietnam War remembrance (it's necessary education especially if you're American). We traveled South to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which splits Vietnam in half. Originally not meant as a political border, the DMZ was formed during the treaty between the French and Vietnamese. The northern half belonged to the Communists, the southern half to Nationalists (capitalists). Elections were to held to re-unify the country under one government, however, when it became clear that Ho Chi Minh would win these elections, the southern government under Diem declared themselves a sovereign republic separated from the North. The DMZ became a de-facto boundary and the Vietnam War began.
What's left of Khe Sanh base - a few rusty pieces of American military equipment. The rest has been taken over by a coffee plantation. During the war some of the bloodiest fights raged along the DMZ. These place names have been burned into American military history: Quang Tri, the Rockpile, Khe Sanh, Lang Vay, and Hamburger Hill
Since the end of the war in 1975, over 5000 civilians have been blown up by mines and unexploded ordnance. Despite this danger, impoverished villagers dig for scrap metal in the DMZ to sell at meagre profits.
The war didn't spare this Catholic church near the DMZ. Its shell stands pockmarked by bullets.