Dr. Tram wrote a definitive book about the Vietnam War from around April 1968 when she worked as the chief medical officer in a field hospital in central Vietnams mountains (Tram 2). She volunteered to offer medical services to the soldiers in the war torn areas, and mostly she wrote down her experiences in her diary.
In this diary she described her daily encounters with soldiers, her feelings about their pain, and feelings about the American soldiers among others. Dr. Tram made a difficult decision to stay with the soldiers in the war fields, I say this because despite her rich background, she took great risks unexpected of women in her times, and I believe if she were alive today she would have earned a place in the Vietnamese history books.
Dr. Tram’s gives us different view of the Vietnam War, it gives a victims view of the war and the perpetrators. Being a North Vietnamese she made a very bold decision to go to the war torn South Vietnam, since at that time North Vietnam was a different country from the south (Mydans 34).
She specifically went to Quang Ngai province to work as a doctor in the hospitals and clinics in the areas of the Duc Pho areas mostly controlled by the National Liberation Front or the Viet Cong. Unfortunately she was ambushed and killed at her twenty-seventh age when she was returning to her hospital from one of the clinical visits.
From her perspective we learn of how the locals felt about the American involvement in the war, we learn that she hated the Americans with a passion for the killings and bombings they did to their country, for maiming her country men and in general were of the pain they underwent in such periods. The abrupt stop in her work shows us how life can be cruel and unfriendly and the war never cares about any one.
We also realize that in these times she missed her mothers love and she was weary and always longing for her mothers caring arms (Tram 2). Despite the American soldiers being perceived by the rest of the world to be hard fighting, hard loving and hard living; we realize they were brutal as it is relieved in the book. It seems as if she was driven by an inner desire to love and care that made her risk her life in the war fields.
Dr. Tram was driven by love and passion for her country men and a desire to see them liberated. She would often stay in Hanoi to attend to the patients and soldiers and every weekend visit her family in the evacuation sites (Mydans 35). She felt the pain, the insecurities and the fear the soldiers experienced and in most cases she would criticize herself for never rising to occasion or being weak while the rest sacrificed their youth for the sake of liberation.
Due to this passion and love she operated on the wounded soldier in unimaginable primitive conditions and was often without drugs that could save their lives. She was always at pain when she saw them die in her hands when she could nothing to save them. She sacrificed her life for the sake of the soldiers and for the sake of her country.
Due to this sacrifice she has entered into the official pantheon of wartime heroes that is inclusive of a number of brave young women who also risked their lives. A hospital has been built and a stature erected in memory of her at the remote site of her clinic in Quang Ngai Province.
I believe if she was alive she would a living testimony and icon of many, and probably she would scold the current selfish regime in which people are mindful of themselves more than their fellow countrymen. She would greatly oppose the trend where the people do not sacrifice for their fellows but sacrifice their fellows instead. She also might probably not agree with the much honor bestowed upon her at the expense of the very many that died in the war.
In conclusion Dr. Tram’s diary gives us the real picture of the war, by describing the situations the soldiers encountered, the longings for their loved ones, and the harsh conditions they were in. It also shows how love for one’s country can make him make a big sacrifice for its benefit.
Dr. Tram, Dang Thuy. Last Night I Dreamed of Peace. Trans. Pham, Andrew. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press. 2007. Print.
Mydans, Seth. “Diary of North Vietnam Doctor Killed in U.S. Attack Makes War Real.” New York Times 26 Jun. 2006: 34-35. Print.
I would like to thank the following person for helping me put this paper together: Chen Xu, worked with me 4 hours.
De Liang Liang, worked with me 4 hours.