As an American, visiting Vietnam war sites can be a challenging and emotional pill to swallow. Face-to-face with the reality of our disgraceful past I found myself overcome with shame, anger, and resentment. I broke down crying in one of the museums while looking at the graphic images of devastation we caused, which was compounded by the fact that Donald Trump had been elected the day before.
But then moments like this would happen. As we left the bunker we saw these two young monks enjoying the view, they turned to us and smiled. The gentleness and warmth I received from the Vietnamese people taught me an incredible lesson on forgiveness. Instead of being rude towards the floods of travelers, they are welcoming. If they are capable of embracing American tourists, then I must be capable of accepting the responsibility of the damage my country caused (and continue to cause, thanks Agent Orange) to such a magnificent country. Forever grateful for the lessons travel teaches.