Pham Xuan An

September 26, 2006

As a sometimes visitor to Vietnam, I was not surprised by the story of Pham Xuan An (thanks to Barista) who has just died. He seemed to represent a characteristic of many of the proud (in the best sense of the word) and dignified Vietnamese I meet there – charming pragmatism. Like many, he clearly recognised the tight controls placed on people but still found a way to be true to himself.

The more I read and learn about Vietnam and the Vietnamese people the more I admire them and the more angry I become that, save for a brief fight against my call-up, I could have been there in 1970 killing them.

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3 Responses to “Pham Xuan An”

  1. Geoffrey MG Says:

    As I haven’t yet visited Vietnam, it is difficult for me to guage what South Vietnamese who stayed after the Communist victory 1975 feel about Australians who fought alongside the army of the Vietnam Republic against the DRV.

    However, when visiting Seoul, some 10 years ago, a senior Korean journalist told me of the strong feelings there for Australia because of its role in the Vietnam war. He remembered as a child seeing a group of fighters flying over his home to wards the frontlines held by the UN forces against the armies of the DPRK and PRC. “There are the Australians come to help us,” he recalled his mother saying to him.

    If southern Vietnamese were free to talk openingly, do you believe they would refer to Australian soldiers (c. 1970) as killers or allies?

  2. Geoffrey MG Says:

    As I haven’t yet visited Vietnam, it is difficult for me to guage what South Vietnamese who stayed after the 1975 Communist victory feel about Australians who fought alongside the army of the Vietnam Republic against the DRV.

    However, when visiting Seoul, some 10 years ago, a senior Korean journalist told me of the strong feelings there for Australia because of its role in the Korean war. He remembered as a child seeing a group of fighters flying over his home towards the frontlines held by the UN forces against the Red armies of the DPRK and PRC. “There are the Australians come to help us,” he recalled his mother saying to him.

    If southern Vietnamese were free to talk openingly, do you believe they would refer to Australian soldiers (c. 1970) as killers or allies?

  3. david tiley Says:

    I am with you there, Mr Cyberslacker. Now, of course, Howard has actually been to Hanoi, used their hospitality for a meeting, and then told us he was right about Vietnam.

    If he was in Darwin in 1980, hosting a visit by the Japanese Prime Minister, and heard him say that he was right about WW2, what would he, and the press, have done?

    At the very least, the moment is a tribute to the Vietnamese discipline in the presence of oafish visitors.


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