Ever since zeroing in on the Vietnam War as the main period of my academic interests, my fascination with the 1968 Tet Offensive has grown tremendously. Enamored by everything from the battles to the effects the invasion had on the rest of war as well as memories of the Vietnam War, definitely motivated me to go to Vietnam a year ago last May.
As shown in the video above, the war reached the very heart of Hue. If you visit the city center today, there are no reminders of the war. No bullet riddled walls or burnt out buildings. Since the end of the war, the city emerged from the flames and exists as a pleasant example of the mixture of French, Chinese, and Vietnamese cultural influences that helped shape the modern nation of Vietnam. For instance, French colonial buildings – which are visible in the above video – are now the offices of the Communist Party and other government related agencies.
I spent a few days in Hue during my trip to Vietnam. As such, I got to see many of the reminders of the war. The bloody street fighting during Tet ’68 destroyed much of the city. Most of the structures surrounding the Citadel complex fell victim to American firepower and the close quarter fighting conducted by U.S. and South Vietnamese forces as they battled to reclaim the city from the Viet Cong. The VC occupied the Citadel – including the Imperial City located with the massive fortifications – believing that the South Vietnamese authorities would never allow the culturally significant site to fall victim to the wrath of American firepower. Yet after much arguing, Saigon allowed U.S. forces to assault the Citadel and Imperial City with tanks and airpower. After intense close quarter fighting, and the VC defeated, the Citadel complex lay in ruin. Although the Citadel suffered terribly, with most of the Imperial City obliterated by heavy weapons, the current government of Vietnam has restored a number of buildings. Nevertheless, the Citadel complex is full a lot of unintended green space and pockmarked walls.