Manus Campbell“When I was 18 and a half, I got a letter from my government, saying I had to report to a military unit.” Manus Campbell is the founder and director of Helping Invisible Victims of War. He has been participating in and funding an orphanage in Hue, providing care for children with disabilities, many affected by Agent Orange. He was stationed in Quang Tri, near Hue.

Manus was at U Cafe earlier today, speaking to a group of people living and working in Hoi An. He has also spoken to the Vietnamese “American War” veteran co-leading a Veterans for Peace (VfP) tour. “Love is bigger than hate and revenge,” the veteran who was stationed across the DMZ from Manus told him. “I didn’t know what it was going to be like,” Manus recalls, but says he was warmly welcomed, being invited to their homes. “It was like nothing I’d imagined… 40 years ago, we were trying to kill each other.”

“No one wins a war,” he says – wars create victims on both sides, often neglected. Instead of pushing away the past, Manus returned to Vietnam in 2007, working with kids at the orphanage, and working with other members of VfP. He also speaks about his experiences of war and of his personal journey in Vietnam. He says PTSD is “more a moral issue, a stain on your soul.” In the coming months he will be leading a VfP tour of Vietnam, with some veterans who have decided to return for the first time.

Manus cho biết từng ăn tối với 4 cựu chiến binh Việt Nam và họ từng đánh nhau trên cùng một chiến trường. Trong bữa ăn, một cựu binh đã nói với ông rằng: “Giờ đây, chúng ta có thể ngồi cùng nhau sau chiến tranh là do trong văn hóa của chúng tôi, tình yêu thương vượt lên trên những hận thù”. Câu nói chân tình ấy giúp Manus nhẹ lòng.