March 5, 2006
Written by C.N.
Can sports transcend war and politics? At the least, it could be a place to start trying — Christian Science Monitor in the continuing efforts to normalize relations between the U.S. and Viet Nam, a group of Americans that includes Cleveland Indians pitcher and Vietnamese Amerasian Danny Graves just inaugurated Viet Nam’s first baseball field:
Jan Scruggs, a decorated American veteran and founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), smiled as he walked onto the field. Last year, he persuaded Major League Baseball and its suppliers to sponsor a goodwill tour of Vietnam and to inaugurate the country’s first-ever baseball field.
At the lectern, Mr. Scruggs took his time, savoring the moment. His was the face of an old soldier trying to bring hope to a country that had seen the destructive force of American power. It came out in clichés, which were probably mangled in translation, but it felt right.
“Here is an opportunity for us to really turn a battlefield into a field of dreams,” he says. Baseball is a wonderful way “to reach out to people.”
The article also mentions that before they could build the baseball field, they had to clear away several pieces of unexploded mines and other military ordinances left over from the Viet Nam/American War. These pieces are among an estimated 300,000 tons of unexploded ordinances still left on Vietnamese soil.
Reconciliation takes time but it’s nice to see that progress is being made. As I’ve said before, normalization can be very positive for both sides. For Americans, it’s a chance to see Viet Nam as something other than a bitter war they lost and to see the Vietnamese (and by implication, Vietnamese Americans) as allies, rather than enemies.
And for the Vietnamese, normalization is likely to increase their level of interconnectedness with the global community, and may even produce a little bit of liberalization and democracy. Every little bit helps . . .
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "American Baseball in Viet Nam" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/03/american-baseball-in-vietnam/> ().
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