by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
The Paris Peace Accords, ending the War in Vietnam, were signed on January 27, 1973. The four parties to this conflict agreed to the unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam and to “support the healing of the wounds of war.”
Despite that Agreement, the war continued until April 1975.
The promises efforts for healing would not begin for decades. Third generation Vietnamese, born today, enter the world with deformities because their grandfathers were exposed to chemical agent orange. Children are losing life and limbs because they live in a village where a buried unexploded ordinance is unearthed during an ordinary play day.
When these buried bombs explode, a lifetime of new suffering is created. For these victims, the war has continued.
Rennie Davis, one of the Chicago Seven, an organizer of the Anti-War Movement of the 60's and 70's, flew to Vietnam this last January to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. He landed in a Vietnam which still faces the impact of a war two generations ended. The 40th Anniversary commemoration of the signing of the Paris Peace Accord in Vietnam was a national ceremony that included past and present political and military leadership. Their nation-wide moment for rememberance was not covered in the United States.
But here in Ashtabula, and across our country, we face many of the same problems which still confront Vietnam and the solutions now being applied there to the continuing presence of toxic waste can also solve problems here.
Vietnam's land and water was impacted by toxic waste, Agent Orange among these. The dioxin-contaminated soil persists, but ways have been identified for remediation which leave the soil cleansed of contaminants, fertile, and renewed. This gift for peace brings blessings which can change our lives, too.
The same process identified and now in use in Vietnam provides the means for dealing with all the toxic waste left here in Ashtabula from World War II and the War in Vietnam. Our soil and water, once treated, can also be left clean and fertile.
After Vietnam ended Rennie moved on to very different work in corporate America. Understanding the problems he had begun looking for answers. Today, the technologies he identified are proven, tested and being used in Vietnam. These same tools can serve us as well.
Ashtabula can recover and find new prosperity from places none of us imagined.