This episode, inspired by the short film “The Sounds of Canons Familiar Like Sad Refrains” by artist Tuan Andrew Nguyen, addresses the problems posed by unexploded ordnance and landmines left in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia after the end of the Vietnam War, as well as the ongoing humanitarian efforts and clearance operations that try to make this land safe for its people. This conversation is hosted by curator Nhung Walsh, who is joined by Chuck Searcy from Project RENEW and Pham Thi Hoang Ha from PeaceTrees Vietnam.
It is hard to mention any Hollywood movies or documentaries about the Vietnam War without thinking of airstrikes and bombardments, and the iconic footage in which we see the destruction of forests, rivers, lands, and the humans inhabiting them. War itself is catastrophic, but nearly five decades after the war ended, hundreds of thousands of people, including children, still continue to lose their lives or are injured by the bombs and mines that have been left behind. In “Nothing Never Dies,” Pulitzer-prize winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen says that “we must also tell the war stories that made ghosts and made us ghosts.” Unexploded ordnances are more than war ghosts, they are the most destructive and direct extension of a war that is still taking lives in time of peace.