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Memories of Vietnam 2

Updated on August 9, 2010
Tong Van Tuan Anh, Wikimedia Commons
Tong Van Tuan Anh, Wikimedia Commons

He remembers the boy as muscle and bone, small face with smiling teeth and a thick swatch of black hair that always looked the same. He'd walk into the village with a bag over his shoulder, and the children would come running. Running and laughing at the big blonde man with the smiling eyes.

The American was only a few years older than the boy, but at 19, he was a man among children. The children loved the American, who they called "Beo," the Vietnamese word for "fat." Beo would walk through the village with his bag full of candy, joshing and teasing the children, and they loved him for it.

He and the boy were friends. He saw him most days, days when he wasn't in the field. The Vietnamese boy would challenge him to fight, and they would punch and kick, just enough to tease, not enough to hurt.

The American was a fighter. He fought for fun when he was growing up. He remembers his first real fist fight. He was five years old, he and his friend angrily rolling around in the dust, fists in his face, arms and legs everywhere, his stomach aching, punching and kicking until he couldn't anymore. Laughing and falling into the grassy ditch, where they stopped, exhausted but happy.

He and the boy laughed as they circled, looking for an opening. The boy was fast, but no match for the American. Beo sneaked in a tap to the cheek, a little too hard, but the boy kept coming, trying to reach the American's face, chest, whatever he could touch. The children watched, happy to see Beo enjoying himself.

Now, years later, Beo is telling the story. His friend, who knows Beo only as "Bill," listens intently. His father came to America after the war and had many stories of his own, one of which he told many times. He spoke of an American who came to the village with bags of candy. The children loved him even though he was a soldier. They gave him a Vietnamese name, a name that conveys admiration.

Bill stops talking, aware his friend is studying him.

His friend says, "Did they call you by another name?"

Bill nods. "I was called Beo."

His friend smiles.

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    • vietfoodchannel profile image

      vietfoodchannel 

      6 years ago from london

      Thank you so much for sharing that heartwarming story, funny how the poor are likely to be warm & welcoming. I am Vietnamese, I remember when I was in high school, we went to a poor classmate, part of his house was still soil-made, almost none valuable furniture but his parents were so generous, offered us with food and all, which I believed, so valuable to them

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      8 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Nice vignette!

      I think we humans tend to undervalue these random connections among us--"one world, one heart"--although it's a heart riven so often by internal conflict.

    • PrettyPanther profile imageAUTHOR

      PrettyPanther 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you, Habee and outdoorsguy! People are the same everywhere, it seems.

    • PrettyPanther profile imageAUTHOR

      PrettyPanther 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      Thanks, MFB III. My friend often says that the one thing he learned from traveling the world is that everyone, regardless of their background or where they live, just wants to be happy.

    • outdoorsguy profile image

      outdoorsguy 

      8 years ago from Tenn

      Fantastic hub.

      NamVetRich, thanks for your service.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Wow, this gives such a human element to the war. Truly incredible!

    • MFB III profile image

      MFB III 

      8 years ago from United States

      Even in the midst of horror and chaos, one can find innocence staring at the actions of warring men, and yet they still find time to play, and seldom judge the invaders who are seeking to liberate them, when they are trapped in a situation where they are forced to grow up too fast. Superb work~~~MFB III

    • PrettyPanther profile imageAUTHOR

      PrettyPanther 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you, NamVetRich. I feel honored that you stopped by and read my hubs.

    • NamVetRich profile image

      NamVetRich 

      8 years ago from Springfield Oregon

      The reading just keeps getting better, gives me goosebumps.

      Please keep the words coming I will keep reading.

    • Mikel G Roberts profile image

      Mikel G Roberts 

      8 years ago from The Heartland

      I hope the experience brought 'Beo' a smile, and some peace.

      Mikel

    • PrettyPanther profile imageAUTHOR

      PrettyPanther 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you for visiting and commenting, Mark! It's one of my favorite stories, and it's true.

    • profile image

      markbennis 

      8 years ago

      A very nice hub there Pretty Panther, it shows that even in the horrors of war, that good can still exist in ones heart.

    • PrettyPanther profile imageAUTHOR

      PrettyPanther 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you, carolina muscle, and I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Great post.. interesting and heartwarming!

    • PrettyPanther profile imageAUTHOR

      PrettyPanther 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      Wow, thank you, daytripeer. I hope I can live up to your kind words!

    • profile image

      daytripeer 

      8 years ago

      I had wondered if perhaps you would have more to say on Memories of Viet Nam, and, you sure do. Three hubs and three winners. I noticed in your profile that you said while writing here, you hope to learn a bit along the way, but, I think you may be teaching instead. :-)

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