Doi Moi the "new openness"
Doi Moi was an economic reform program started by the 6th National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam in December 1986 to stimulate Viet Nam's failing economy and promote private enterprise. Prior to this time no private businesses existed and private ownership was strictly limited. This era of "new openness," as it was commonly referred to, enabled me to travel more freely than I would have been able to a few years earlier.
I returned to Viet Nam in 1989, 20 years after my military tour of duty in 1969. I made 6 trips to Viet Nam between 1989 and 1996. I saw the country through the eyes of a combat veteran returning to a place I fought in but knew almost nothing about. Much of my interest in Viet Nam was filtered through guilt and a desire to know a place I did not know or understand twenty years ago.
Viet Nam, as many have said, “is a country not a war” which is very true. About 70% of the population was born after the war. But for myself and many other veterans of the Vietnamese/American War it was the definitive moment in our lives. I couldn’t help but see it any other way.
These are the photographs which helped me see and understand a country I had wronged with my complicity as a combat soldier so many years ago. They also helped me see Viet Nam as a country and not just a war. These trips and the friends I made and the people I worked with helped me find a “new openness.”