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ABOUT THE FILM
Road To Reconcile is the story of a small group of unlikely heroes who have returned to Vietnam and partnered with the country and the people they once fought against. Filmed throughout the former demilitarized zone (DMZ) along what the Vietnamese call the “The Road of No Joy,” this film explores the intimate and often complicated process of healing that has taken place between formers enemies (US- Vietnam) and how that history offers a hopeful example for future conflicts in a post war era.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
By the mid seventies the Vietnam War had cost the lives of more than 58,000 Americans and created deep divisions within the country that would last for decades. More than 3 million Vietnamese were killed during the war with millions more forcibly removed from their lands and displaced as refugees throughout the world.
In the end, South Vietnam officially surrendered to communist North Vietnam on April 30, 1975 following the dramatic departure of the last U.S. troops and personnel left in Saigon. On July 2, 1976, Vietnam was reunited as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The southern city of Saigon was changed to Ho Chi Minh City. A tribute to the famous leader of Vietnamese independence.
For the next 2 decades more than 2 million Vietnamese people fled their country with thousands of refugees eventually relocating throughout the United States. Millions more stayed behind in Vietnam only to experience extreme food shortages and mass starvation as the country struggled to rebuild. Following a series of economic reforms by the Vietnamese government, foreign investment began to come back to the country in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.
Then almost two decades after the war ended, the U.S. officially lifted the embargo on Vietnam in 1994, with formal normalization of U.S. - Vietnam diplomatic relations taking place a year later. Since the mid 90’s Vietnam and the United States have dramatically transformed their relationship and now share booming trade volumes and repositioned themselves as military allies in the region.
In 1997 Air Force pilot Pete Peterson was named the first post-war ambassador to Vietnam. Pete was shot down in 1966 and spent 6 years along with John McCain and other US POW’s in the Hỏa Lò Prison, also known in the west as the Hanoi Hilton. For many others the process of reconciliation began years before as U.S. veterans and their families started to make their way back to Vietnam to confront the past and to reconnect with the one’s they left behind. In 1980, a paralyzed Marine veteran named Bobby Muller founded the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) and led the first post-war delegation of U.S. veterans to Vietnam a year later. During the next 2 decades American veterans would become leading advocates of reconciliation with Vietnam.
One such veteran was Chuck Searcy, who served in the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion in Saigon from June, 1967 to June, 1968. Chuck moved to Vietnam in 1995 and as a representative of the VVAF. In 2001, Searcy became a representative of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) and helped launch Project RENEW in Quang Tri Province. Since that time, Searcy along with many other American veterans, have created programs to clean up unexploded ordnance (UXO), provided medical assistance, rehabilitation, and income generation for UXO and Agent Orange victims in one of the most heavily contaminated areas on earth, Quang Tri Province.