No this is not Colonel Sanders! This is Ho Chi Minh, "Uncle Ho" was greatly loved, his portrait appears on every single dong. (Vietnamese currency)
We met many former South Vietnamese soldiers. These guys don't really have it so good these days. Mr Franky clunked on his artificial leg with his fist as he offered to take us to Hamburger Hill to show us where he lost it.
Propaganda appears across the country. We saw an artist put the finishing touches on this scene of military pride, productivity and happy domesticity.
The most difficult reminder of the war is seeing people my age with severe birth defects (presumably) from Agent Orange. On an average you would see three or four of these poor souls a day.
All my life I have heard the word "Vietnam." Simply to utter it sounds sinister to the average American's ear. It's charged with negative connotations, places and events that are painful to our collective memory. Dien Bien Phu, Khe Sahn, Ho Chi Mihn. Growing up in the Reagan charged eighties I saw Hollywood send Rambo back to win the war, Oliver Stone took a stab at manpulating our memories, even television changed "China Beach" from a place to a sitcom. To truly learn what Vietnam is and what happened there I decided to go and see for myself.

When you tell an American you are going to travel in Vietnam the typical response is, "why the hell would you want to go there." I heard a fair share of stories from baby boomers about their experiences in the war or how they got out of going. Thank god my generation has never had to face a situation like that. We should consider ourselves very, very lucky.