Lao PDR and the Vietnam War

//Lao PDR and the Vietnam War

Lao PDR and the Vietnam War

Bomb casings at the UXO Center in Luang Prabang

Bomb casings at the UXO Center in Luang Prabang

When staying in Luang Prabang, the cultural center of Lao PDR (the correct name of this country is the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao, or Lao PDR…not Laos), I visited the UXO Center. UXO stands for unexploded ordnance. The center focuses on education for the public and for Lao adults and children, and clearing land of live bombs which still maim and kill people to this day.

As a US citizen carrying memories of the Vietnam War from when I was a child, I knew this afternoon would be an emotional one. I spent some time looking at the exhibits and watching a few documentaries, learning about the insanity of the war  (in particular the 9 year depravity of carpet bombing perpetrated by the US administration, known as the Secret War 1964-1973).

As I stood there, crying openly, a kindhearted Lao woman on the staff said to me, “A lot of people cry when they come here.” I responded, “It would be really strange if they didn’t.”

Entrance to the UXO Musuem

Entrance to the UXO Musuem

If you’d like to help Lao people clear their land of the U.S. bombs left over from the Vietnam War that still pollute their land and hurt their children, go here: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/uxo-lao/. Thank you!

Here is some information taken from the UXO website, www.uxolao.org.

THE UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE (UXO) PROBLEM

Lao PDR has the unwanted distinction of being per capita the most heavily bombed nation in the world. Between the years 1964 and 1973, the United States flew more than half a million bombing missions, delivering more than two million tons of explosive ordnance, in an attempt to block the flow of North Vietnamese arms and troops through Laotian territory. The ordnance dropped include more than 266 million submunitions (known as “bombies” in Laos) released from cluster bombs.

Significant land battles, including those during the war for independence during the French colonial era and between the Pathet Lao and the Royal Lao forces, also contributed vast quantities of unexploded heavy bombs, rockets, grenades, artillery munitions, mortars, anti-personnel landmines, and improvised explosive devices.

It is estimated that up to 30% of all ordnance did not explode. Such unexploded ordnance (UXO) continues to remain in the ground, maiming and killing people, and hindering social-economic development and food security.

CLUSTER MUNITIONS PROBLEM

In excess of 270 million
Estimated number of sub-munitions (bombies) from cluster bombs dropped over Lao PDR between 1964 and 1973.

30%
Estimated failure rate of sub-munitions under ideal conditions
80 million
Estimated number of sub-munitions that failed to explode.
446,711  or  0.55%
Number or percentage of estimated unexploded sub-munitions destroyed by UXO Lao from 1996 to May 2010.

***

Leaving the UXO Center, I prayed for peace on Earth. I also spent some time letting go and forgiving the entire situation.

The evil minds who manifested the idea and the attack on Laos were truly twisted. The entire country was used as a pawn in a larger, insane game … a vestige of the cold war. The US bombing of the supply lines of the Viet Cong on the Ho Chi Minh Trail never stopped supplies for more than a few days, so the people and land of Lao were sacrificed for nothing. Bombs still explode and maim people today…all for nothing…

I needed to release the guilt I felt for being a US citizen. I was three when the bombing began. Had I been older, I wouldn’t have known about this evil secret war until years later, and then I would have been in the streets with thousands of others to stop it (as I have been many times over the years). Guilt does not help me be a better peacemaker. It just weighs me down. So I let it go.

I AM the Light of the world. We ARE the light of the world, beyond all appearances. An excellent and necessary meditation…

A few days later…

I went to the Patok Caves close to beautiful Non Khiaw, a small town on the Nam Ou river. The caves sheltered villagers during the U.S. bombings and were also a regional  headquarters of the Pathet Lao (Communist Lao Army).

When I went to the caves, which are empty now, I was prayerful. I said Ho’oponopono (I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you and I thank you) and cleaned up some garbage.  I tuned in to the people hiding for so long, fearful of the bombs dropping, cooking meals and sleeping and having babies there. Doing whatever it took to stay alive.

For the entire duration of my visit, I could hear a band playing. The happy music bounced off the limestone karst mountains in a playful, insistent way. In a nearby village, some lucky folks were getting married and the whole town was celebrating. The message to me seemed to be: the war is over (if you want it)!

Apparently, it was an auspicious day to get engaged or married, and I saw 4 different massive parties in 3 villages that day. War is over – it is time to LOVE! Hallelujah.

Entrance to the Pathok Cave

Entrance to the Patok Cave

Faces in the stone

Faces in the stone at the cave

A bomb casing turns into a message

A bomb casing turns into a message

Fancy engagement party for the daughter of the chief of police, Non Khiaw

Fancy engagement party for the daughter of the chief of police, Non Khiaw

Again, if you’d like to help Lao people clear their land of the U.S. bombs left over from the Vietnam War, go here:http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/uxo-lao/. Thank you!

 

 

By | 2016-04-04T23:27:13+00:00 February 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|8 Comments

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8 Comments

  1. Carolyn Gsell February 19, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Anna, Thank you for sharing your heartfelt journey. I cried too, when reading about your experience at the UXO Center. And still today, we hear the rhetoric of self-proclaimed problem solvers yielding the saber sword of speech against millions of innocent people caught up in a web of evil power grabbing. Now more than ever our peacefulness and forgiveness is needed to heal our world so that we may move forward as one planet in an authentic way.

    My friend Rich is returning stateside end of next week. Not sure if you ever hooked up with him. Turns out that a dear friend of mine from a different community circle has been taking guitar lessons with Rich and commented on his wonderful travel posts. If you don’t mind, I would like to share your stories (blog) with her as well.

    Namaste’

    Carolyn

  2. anah0lub February 20, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Hi Carolyn – thanks for your comments and yes, please feel free to share this blog with anyone who can benefit. Hope you are feeling healthy and happy! xoxo Ana

  3. Kristina Kenegos February 20, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Ana,
    You saw elephants!
    Love you,
    Kristina

  4. Diane Winegarden February 20, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    Ana, I am grateful for your sharing of your trip adventures. I just viewed your trip with a smile of delight on my face. Physically I must be in Iowa at this time, so a virtual trip with you is very much appreciated. Thank you, and blessings to you as you continue your travels.
    Diane

  5. Mary February 21, 2016 at 4:12 am

    Ana, thank you for the gift of your journey – for us at home and for all whom you meet. Listening moment by moment, your beautiful journey unfolds! Mary

  6. dilys bingham February 23, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Dear Ana,

    Clearly a very moving experience —how they still suffer is hard to apprehend –

    —–will we ever learn to CARE for our fellow human beings ? Wishing you a safe journey .xDilys

  7. Andrea March 22, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    thank you Ana

  8. sikis izle May 7, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    merci pour le partage.

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