Reckoning with the Vietnam War

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Tourists visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the evening 3/13. People have been complaining that some of the ground lights illuminating the wall were out.
From and

Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear this interview.

It's the second and final day of President Obama’s visit to Vietnam. After ending a decades-long arms embargo that had been placed on the country, the president will end his trip with a visit to Ho Chi Minh City. The city was once known, of course, as Saigon — the capital of South Vietnam, and the home of French and American troops fighting the Communist North. 

Related: Rory Kennedy on the Unsung Heroes of Saigon

But that's just one part of a history that the American and Vietnamese governments consider to be in the past.

“Over the past century, our two nations have known cooperation, and then conflict, painful separation, and then a long reconciliation," President Obama said in Hanoi on Monday. "Now, more than two decades of normalized ties between our government has allowed us to reach a new moment. It's clear from this visit that both our peoples are eager for an even closer relationship; a deeper relationship."

Related: A Conversation With Vietnam Memorial Artist Maya Lin

Despite Obama's gentle words, has there really been a reckoning with the Vietnam War? That's a subject heavily infused in the book "The Sympathizer" by Viet Thanh Nguyen, the winner of this year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Nguyen grew up in a world divided. His parents fled to South Vietnam in the mid 1950s before moving to the United States in 1975 when South Vietnam fell to the North. Nguyen says that we all have a long way to go before we can lay the past to rest. Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear our full interview. 

Related: Risking Death for Freedom: An Escaped Survivor Looks Back at Vietnam