32-year-old Dinh Van Loc, a mattress maker from Vietnam, has an obsession with war relics from the US–Vietnam war. His house gives an impression of a battlefield, with a large collection of big and small material relating to the war.
It took him years to collect this war treasure. It all started when Loc was a teenager, and got fascinated by his country’s war with the US, which ended 40 years ago.
The war in Vietnam began in the year 1959, as a direct consequence of the division of the country into two smaller entities. The Geneva Accord in 1954 had bisected the country into a communist government in north and a democratic state in the south. North Vietnam was under Ho Chi Minh, whereas Ngo Dinh Diem ran the democratic Vietnam. A guerilla movement was launched by Ho in the North in a bid to unite the country under one communist government, which escalated with every passing day. American forces landed in South Vietnam to assist the South against the guerilla force in the South, aided by the North, known as the ‘Viet Cong’. This started a deadly conflict, which ended in 1975, though US forces had left the region two years earlier. By the end of the conflict, a total of 58,220 American soldiers had been killed, with 303,644 badly wounded. The total number of dead in the conflict has been estimated as 1.475 million, the Reuters reports.
Loc’s obsession with the war zone memorabilia is not shared by most of his countrymen. The total population of Vietnam is 90 million, and the majority of them were born after the war. Those who lived through the horrors of the war have decided to leave the memories behind them.
Loc is particularly interested in the human side of the conflict. The stuff he has collected over the years reminds him of the lives of the soldiers on both sides of the conflict. He has a few ration cups with soldiers’ names engraved on them. Some of the cups even have some other names scratched on to them, possibly their loved ones or family members. Loc says sometimes he could feel as if he is present in the battlefield, sitting with the soldiers.
He visits Hanoi market on a regular basis, where tons of war-related stuff is sold on tabletops. Digging through the piles of wartime relics like an archaeologist, he chooses some of the interesting ones. He says that the market smells like war, and he loves coming here looking for more stuff from the conflict. There are some other old folk walking through the market and looking at the stuff. These are the survivors of the conflict, who come here often to pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the war.
All images via http://en.baomoi.com/