The third sons and daughters meeting was the smallest but perhaps the most powerful. Just three daughters came. They were all from Danang. There were also five Vietnamese veterans at the table who had been instrumental in getting the daughters to come to the meeting. At first I worried that the presence of so many military officials would hinder our conversation, but that didn’t happen. First one, then two of the daughters shared their names, background, and information about their fathers. The third, Thi Le Phi, stood up to speak. She had prepared a statement and started to cry as she read.
Ms. Phi was four years old when her father was killed. She said her mother refused to remarry. “She always said my father had a sweet heart.” Ms. Phi said she never thought she would have a chance to meet us. “We live in different countries. We are far apart. I am very happy we children, the sons and daughters of war martyrs, are together.” She directed her attention to Patty, whose father was killed just a few miles from where we sat. “In the past our fathers were enemies. It was a hard time for the Vietnamese and for you. We share the same pain about the impact of war. We lost our fathers. Nothing can recover them. But together we can put the past behind us and look to the future. I hope we have more occasions like this and more understanding.”
The top official closed the meeting by saying “had he met and talked like this with the Americans, we might not have fought each other.“