“After Agent Orange we had no fish and we had no water to drink.”

-Lady Borton listened to a woman in the Mekong Delta describe how after the spraying the bananas bloated and then died. And the rice that sprouted was overgrown and inedible; they called it American rice. Then she showed her the small, circular scars on her legs from forgetting to wash her legs with urine after working in the rice fields.

When Agent Orange was sprayed over a vast area of central and south Vietnam to kill the trees and uncover the guerrillas, the chemical poisoned the soil, river systems, lakes and rice paddies of Vietnam, enabling toxic chemicals to enter the food chain.

The U.S. soldiers who handled the chemical and the affected Vietnamese showed higher rates of cancer, but it is estimated that tens of thousands of children in total suffered serious birth defects — spina bifida, cerebral palsy, physical and intellectual disabilities and missing or deformed limbs. And Agent Orange is now debilitating the third and fourth generation.

Lasting Legacy

pain endures long after war

“Wars have a tremendous staying power. Munitions endure and continue to maim and kill long after conflicts end. Physical injuries persist and alter lives. And then there are the mental scars. Often they are harder to spot than a wooden leg or missing fingers, but look deep into the eyes of a war victim, and there’s a good chance you will find traces of them there. Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it.”  – Nick Turse 

Wounded and shocked civilian survivors of Dong Xoai crawl out of a fort bunker on June 6, 1965, where they survived murderous ground fighting and air bombardments of the previous two days. photo by Horst Faas, AP

– Nick Turse, Two Men, Two Legs and Too Much Suffering: The Forgotten Vietnamese Victims, TomDispatch.com
– Earl S. Martin, Reaching the Other Side: The Journal of an American Who Stayed to Witness Vietnam’s Postwar Transition
– Lady Borton, After Sorrow: An American Among the Vietnamese
– www.psywarrior.com