Yesterday we took a trip to the town of Quang Tri, DMZ (the former demilitarized zone) located along the 17th parallel, the Vinh Moc tunnel, and the beach. The town of Quang Tri is where the bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War took place. We visited the ancient citadel where the battle occurred, and learned more about it from the museum.
Then we traveled north to the DMZ, where we walked across the Ben Hai River bridge that separated the north and the south during the war. For many of us, it was eye opening to see how distant two parts of a country can be and how real it felt given the physical separation. We also visited the museum at the DMZ and saw some pictures of the NGOs that are working to help restore communities affected by the war, including Project RENEW. Visiting the museum helped us to understand more about the role of Quang Tri in the war and the efforts that NGOs have been making since. Many of us were moved by crossing the river and visiting the museum because it made the war seem much less distant than it does at home in the US.
From there we traveled east to the Vinh Moc tunnel along the coast of the South China Sea (also known as the East Sea in Viet Nam). We crawled through tunnels made by the North Vietnamese during the war to be used as protection for soldiers and their families. Entire communities lived in these underground homes for long periods of time. Children were born in the tunnels, attended school there, and families eventually transitioned their entire lives to the underground tunnels.
In the afternoon we got a bit of relaxation at the Cua Viet Beach. It was nice to spend the afternoon in the sand and the waves.