Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Learning in the Jungle

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am off on an adventure with my brothers in Vietnam. As I write this, I am up early (I never have adjusted to the massive time difference and still get up every morning at 4:00) and getting ready for a run in the city of Tay Ninh.

We have had a blast. We started in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for a couple of days of food, culture, bartering at the shops, and just taking it all in. Every scene has made us wonder what our Dad and his fellow troopers must have experienced some 40 years ago. We then got a driver and headed off to the Northwest toward the Cambodian border. We saw the tunnels at Cu Chi, climbed a big mountain to visit a temple on the Ba Den mountain, and got the lay of the land here in Tay Ninh. Yesterday we found the battlefield that my Dad fought on during a catastrophic day in 1970 and saw a worship service at another temple for the Cao Dai religion. We have sampled some of the local food and drink all along the way. The people have been awesome and the scenery has been breathtaking. What a blast.

The picture above is me with my brothers sharing some tea after visiting the Cu Chi tunnels. It was an interesting tour. For some, it may have been uncomfortable hearing tales of how the rebels had such success against the Americans. For us, it was a chance to learn about the ingenuity of people and their willingness to sacrifice for a cause. There was also much to learn about "winning hearts and minds," something that has probably taken us too long to remember in our current engagements. There is always value in learning from our enemies -- current and past -- to help us prepare for the future. And as we have discussed before, there is no better way to learn than to learn from failure.

On this Veteran's Day, I'd like to salute the men and women who have served their country with such distinction, especially here in Vietnam. After only a few days we have certainly gained an appreciation of how difficult the conditions were here. No matter what one thinks about this particular war, or about warfare in general, we should be thankful that there are others who will serve, who will endure hardships, and who will make the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you Vets for all that you have done.

From Tay Ninh -- that's Leader Business!

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