S CHOOLKIDS: Dozens of school children patiently wait for the parade to start in
Ho Chi Minh City on April 30. With over half of Vietnam's population under the
age of 20, most of the country has no direct experience of the war which cost
the lives of over 3 million Vietnamese and more than 55,000 Americans.
MARCHING SOLDIERS: Several thousand soldiers took part in parade last
Sunday, including aging veterans and inexperienced-looking conscripts who
marched past Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet and Communist Party leader Do
Muoi, among other dignitaries.
LEGACY OF WAR: Five-year-old Vo Van Quan
suffers the effects of the massive use of the defoliant Agent Orange sprayed
near his home along the Vietnamese-Cambodian border 30kms northwest of Tay Ninh
city. At age three, Quan was taken to Japan for an operation to insert a drip
tube from his brain to his bladder so that pressure could be reduced in his
head. Doctors surmise that Quan's mother picked up the chemical poisioning which
resulted in the birth defect from working in difficult-to-farm fruit orchards
which required large amounts of "contaminated" mulch to produce sufficient
yields. Ironically, Quan has become somewhat of a celebrity in his village and
his mother says he's become spoiled by gifts from well-wishers.
MILITIA: Several members of a women's militia unit take a break after marching
in the parade, which was an invitation-only affair held in the center of Ho Chi
Minh City. The event ended up being somewhat of a media circus as more than 400
journalists from all over the globe converged on the city, which shows few signs
of the war.