In 1967, working as a nurse for the American Navy in California, Susan had to take care of American soldiers wounded in the battles in Vietnam.
Gradually Susan had realizied the facts that young American soldiers had been being trained and coaxed to kill innocent people in Vietnam and that she herself was employed in the war machine. This thought led to her anti-war activities and she joined the anti-war movement together with those who shared the same viewpoint.
Susan knew American B52 bombers had dropped leaflets to call Vietnamese revolutionary soldiers to desert the army and she decided to use the same approach to spread her anti-war views right in the American territory.
With the support of a friend who was a pilot, in October 1968, she loaded the aircraft with a large amount of leaflets calling for a peace parade by US troops and veterans in San Francisco in the next two days.
The leaflets were dropped from several hundreds of meters over military bases in San Francisco Gulf, on the USS Enterprise and Oak Knoll naval hospital, where she worked. Later on, her friends and Susan organized a press conference on the event.
The event rocked the then American society. Susan did not stop at that point but continued joining anti-war demonstrations in her naval uniform.
Under American Navy’s regulations, troops were not be permitted to wear uniform while showing their viewpoints on religion, parties or politics. But at that time, Susan decided to wear uniform to join anti-war demonstrations in public. She explained that General Westmoreland could wear uniform to ask the Congress for financial supports for the Vietnam War, so she could wear her naval uniform to express her anti-war viewpoint.
However, she was then imprisoned for 6 months and discharged from the navy in February 1969.
This June, Susan has returned in the S-shape country of Vietnam for the third time. The 68-year-old lady looked younger and more dynamic than her age. With bright eyes and agile walk, she hoped that her return, as the head of the Delegation of American Community Heath and Science Association under the Board for Mobilizing Support for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin of Vietnam, would help her collect more documents and facts on AO situations in Vietnam in order to call for more funds for activities in support of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.
Susan shared that she and other members of the delegation cooperated with some members of the House of Representatives in compiling a draft law to demand rights for Agent Orange/Dioxin victims in Vietnam and to call for a compensation of US $1billion for those victims and the detoxication activities in 28 badly-dioxin polluted locations in Vietnam.
However, for the draft law to be discussed and then passed in the House of Representatives, it requires at least one MP to voice his/her supports and patronize it.
Susan with her sad smile acknowledged that American Veterans Organzations and the delegation had been trying to persuade and convince every MP but not all of them showed their symphathies and supports. Yet, Susan and her friends were not disappointed. At present they have been working hard to raise more funds for the Vietnamese AO victims while continuing to improve public awareness of the issue in US society. For Susan, the Vietnam War has not yet ended.
Susan was happy to inform that on the return to Vietnam this time, her organization had handed over US $3,250 for the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin to support the victims. Besides, some proceeds from selling Susan’s anti-war propaganda paintings would be handed over to Associations for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin in other provinces across Vietnam.
The story about the origin of these paintings is very interesting. In 1972, Susan participated in an international conference on the Vietnam War in Cuba and she was presented some propaganda paintings of the war consequences on people. She kept those paintings carefully and before returning to Vietnam, she had sold them to the Cuba Reseach Centre in America.
For her, the proceeds were not much, but necessary as it could partly help ease the pains of the victims.
Susan affirmed that she would continue to do her best to assist victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin as she felt life more meaningful with the mission.
Putting her hand on the heart, a gesture of honesty, Susan said that the war in Vietnam was a turning point in her life. The American Administration has once represented the American citizens as her to do bad things in Vietnam so now she feels responsible for Vietnamese victims of these bad things. She and her friends would not give up their fight for the justice for Vietnamese victims. They would also keep calling for legitimation in the American Congress and try to collect more funds to help overcome the war aftermaths in Vietnam.
Reported by Ngoc Ha
Translated by Mai Huong