Saturday, 16 Dec 2017

Keeping war letters for the next generation

Updated at Thursday, 27 Jul 2017, 11:22
The Hanoitimes - On the sideline of the exhibition War Letters to mark the 70th anniversary of the War Invalids and Martyrs Day, a meeting was held inspired by the book “War Letters” of writer Dang Vuong Hung.
The meeting gathered witnesses who were receivers of the war 113 war letters compiled in the book of Dang Vuong Hung.  The  living witnesses retold the stories published in the book. At the meeting, the participants planned collecting and preserving war letters written not only on papers but also on cloths cigarett packages or even bullets. 
 “Wars have been described in literatures and motion pictures, some of which have become masterpiece. This is  how the war is seen through the artistic angles.  However, in War Letters, those who wrote these letter are not writer, they are people who described reality of combat, of war routine life and their nostalgia during the war”, said cultural activist - professor Hoang Chuong.
The Exhibition of “War letters” at Vietnam Exhibition Center for Culture & Arts.
The Exhibition of “War letters” at Vietnam Exhibition Center for Culture & Arts.
As a former  Con Dao prisoner,  Chairwoman of Ho Chi Minh City Cultural Heritage Association Le Tu Cam said the war letters were the means of communication between “hell” (Con Dao prison) and  “life” (the freedom). Tu Cam recalled  the time she spent in prisons Thu Duc, Chi Hoa and Tan Hiep of Con Dao when prisoners had to disguise their letters so it can be sent away without being detected or searched. The letters were written on clothes and then attached in handbag and sent homes. On the other way, letters sent from home to prisoners were  concealed  in many creative forms. According to Tu  Cam family, her mother hide the letters carefully in the food sent to her. At that time, these letters not only contained the feeling to each other, but also secretly exchanged information on the war. The letters served as encouragement to war prisoners, convincing them of a not-very-far-away final victory.
“40 years ago, I used to write and read letters for myself and my comrades. The letters did  not  belong to the receiver only  but  to everyone in the cell. Whoever received a letter, he or she  read it outloud for all in the cell to hear. Until now, I still have the feeling my cell comrades are still listening to me reading the letters ” – former prisoner Truong Cong Dao said.
“Normally when speaking about commemorating  the war, people often think of historical monuments and stories of  battles, while overlooking  the human side of  war letters. Each letter is considered a remembrance by the survivors and also as a means to remind the young generation of a heroic past” , said historian Duong Trung Quoc.
Thousands who wrote these war letters lost  their lives, but their stories and thoughts remains forever with their family and friends and those who read their letters. As told by a mother of a fallen soldier, her son sent her  letters written  in areca spathe. And under the bombing, when rushing to the air-raid shelter, the only thing she brought with herself was the areca spathe letters. Only when the peace was restored, then she respectfully put these letters on his altar. The war has gone by for a long time, but the war veterans, as well as many young people are still searching for these valuable items that remind us of a  time of our great patriotic war.
Linh Anh - Ngoc Thuy
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