Vietnamese sister city stirs controversy

April 1, 2010 4:41:51 PM PDT
The Vietnam War was a chaotic time for our country - especially for our service members who fought in it. The war scarred the country and turned Fayetteville into "Fayettenam" - a negative reference to the city from the Fort Bragg soldiers who passed through the town headed to the war.

But now, Soc Trang - a small Vietnamese city - wants to become sister cities with Fayetteville, and Mayor Tony Chavonne supports the idea.

"Soc Trang contacted us. It's actually a small village in the Southern part of Vietnam. There was a military airfield there. In fact over the last couple of weeks we've heard from several people in our community who were stationed there at one time," he said.

But some veterans are opposed to the idea.

"Well, I think the mayor is off base," said Don Talbot is a former Green Beret who fought in Vietnam.

Talbot says the mayor is enflaming old wounds.

"Most of the veterans I have talked to really don't want to relive them or go back to them. And so, if he wants us to have a party and a parade, fine. But don't hand us a communist city at the same time," he said.

But Chavonne disagrees.

"It is a communist country, but I would say so is China - our leading trade partner for the country," he offered.

The mayor says a sister city in Vietnam would help heal old wounds. So does Chris North. He spent time in Soc Trang during the war and supports the mayor.

"They're looking for trade. They're looking for a chance to break out. They themselves are suffering under oppression from China," he said.

The mayor welcomes the dialog - good or bad. He says it may be a year before the idea comes before city council. In the meantime, he wants folks to keep talking and keep an open mind.

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