“It could be said that I’m simply an honest American woman.” Lady Borton shared her feelings while talking to the “Chuyên đề An ninh thế giới” (World Security Newspaper) about war amongst other things.

Lady Borton is an American writer, journalist and charity activist, who has visited Vietnam many times. Borton has recently translated a number of works by President Ho Chi Minh, including “ Vua di duong vua ke chuyen ” (Stories told on the trail), into different languages. She is also author of the books “ After sorrow: An American among the Vietnamese ” and “ Sensing the enemy: An American among the Vietnamese Boat people ”.

Borton along with journalist and cultural researcher Huu Ngoc, compiled a number of bilingual reference books and also translated the books “ Dien Bien Phu: Diem hen lich su ” ( Dien Bien Phu: Rendezvous with Destiny ) by General Vo Nguyen Giap and “ Tay Nguyen ngay ay ” ( The Central Highlands: A North Vietnamese Journal of Life on the Ho Chi Minh Trail ).

Borton first came to Vietnam in 1969 and since then has returned to the country many times. She was present in Vietnam during historical times, right after the country regained its national independence in 1975, in her capacity as a member of a US organisation working for peace and as a member of an US education delegation. Occasionally, Borton visited Vietnam as a writer, a freelance journalist or a translator.

In her memory, during those days, Hanoi was at peace and there were very few cars. Whenever a car appeared in streets, it would belong to a minister or a foreigner. There were just bicycles and pedicabs, even wagons, on Hanoi ’s roads which had few traffic lights. The local people had no telephones and led very poor lives. In the eyes of foreigners, Hanoi lacked everything.

Borton said that when she comes back to Hanoi nowadays, she feels surprised at the rapid changes. Hanoi is now much more modern, especially its communications networks. The city lacks nothing compared with other developing nations. In the past, there remained certain gaps in cultural exchanges with foreigners, but communicating with foreigners has now become popular. Hanoians have successfully upheld their age-old cultural traditions, while leading abundant and diverse lives. Whenever Borton came to Vietnam , she visited the Temple of Literature , which has preserved the cradle of Vietnamese first cultures.

When asked why she chose Vietnam as her destination, Borton said that she had worked for the peace movement during Vietnam ’s war with America . The project provided medical equipment and medicines for the Vietnamese-German and Bach Mai Hospitals as well as local people, channelled through Cambodia . As a manager, Borton regularly met with Vietnamese people and felt their agonies during the war. She also thoroughly understood American losses during the war.

During her meetings with Vietnamese people, Borton made friends with many people, including journalist and culture researcher Huu Ngoc, the former Director of the World Publishing House, and people from the Vietnam Women’s Union Central Committee and the Vietnam-US Society under the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations. With her love for Vietnam , the American writer has been teaching herself Vietnamese since 1969.

When talking about women’s aspirations for happiness and peace, Borton said she is very fearful of war. In whatever family or country, people have a hatred for war as it brings cruel and terrible destruction. War means wives lose husbands, mothers lose children and people lose family members. In particular, the impact of Agent Orange (AO) on millions of people was terrible and bombs and mines left over from the war are still a big threat to people.

The writer said she used to be a member of non-governmental organisation against war no matter in what country it occurred, because one war always leads to another. For example, the US ’s war in Vietnam ended in 1975, but its aftermath still exists. In fact, the US even imposed embargo on Vietnam , and backed the Khmer Rouge in an attempt to invade Vietnam ’s southern region.

Borton said that the US government should admit the consequences of AO in Vietnam . Many young Americans were forced to serve and only a few of them voluntarily joined the army. A lot of them never came back, or were injured, or reported missing. “Being an honest American woman, I fell very painful about this. The war in Vietnam ended 35 years ago, but American’s pain is still there,” she said.

On returning to Vietnam this year, Borton said she was sickened by corruption regardless of what country it occurs in. The trafficking of women and children is also a stinging issue, while sending guest workers abroad needs to be carefully considered. On educational reforms, there remain many pressing matters such as private teaching and tuition and illegally collecting money from students.

While sharing what inspired her to translate President Ho Chi Minh’s works into English, Borton said that she has read 12 books about President Ho Chi Minh during her trips to Vietnam and found that he was a politician, a diplomat, a poet and a man of culture.

During the war, the US government had taught Americans to hate communists. However, when Borton first came to Vietnam in 1969, she was very surprised when people who had followed the former regime also cried and were saddened when President Ho Chi Minh passed way. Borton gradually understood that Ho Chi Minh was a father and a great teacher to the Vietnamese people.

No State President in any country worldwide is informally called “Uncle”. If Vietnam had not had President Ho Chi Minh, it would have found it hard to have a successful revolution. Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts are “Unity, unity, great unity. Success, success, great success”; “Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom!” Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts and actions for national independence and liberty are absolutely right. Vietnam was the first colonial nation in Southeast Asia to rise up and struggle for national independence. This posed a profound influence on the world movement for national liberation. Leaders from the US , France , the UK and the Netherlands respected Ho Chi Minh because of his influence.

Ho Chi Minh created a lot of ideological works that Borton would like to introduce to help international friends understand him and the Vietnamese people better. They include “Nhật ký trong tù” (Prison diary), “Bản án chế độ thực dân Pháp” (a Judgement on French colonisation), “Lời kêu gọi toàn quốc kháng chiến” (the Appeal for national resistance), “Thư gửi cho đồng bào trong việc hoàn thành cải cách ruộng đất ở miền Bắc” (Letter to compatriots following land reforms in the North), “Thư chào mừng năm mới gửi nhân dân Mỹ” (New Year greetings to the American people (1966)) “Bản di chúc của Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh” (President Ho Chi Minh’s testament).

“Whenever and wherever he was, Ho Chi Minh also placed friendship and solidarity amongst peoples first. He once said that the Vietnamese people would wage a protracted war of resistance to defend national independence,” Borton concluded./.