A Dream of Peace


Dang Thuy Tram Hospital
Ngo Duy Thuong, via Flickr

Ryan Geertsma and Robin Basselin look at the diary of Dang Thuy Tram, a record of this doctor's thoughts and feelings during the war in Vietnam.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2

And I'm Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3

"June 4, 1968. If only I had wings. I would fly back to our beautiful house on Lo Duc Street. I would eat with Dad, Mom and my sisters and brother, one simple meal...and one night's sleep under the old cotton blanket. Last night I dreamed of peace. I came back and saw everybody. Oh, the dream of peace and independence has burned in the hearts of 30 million people for so long."

Voice 1

These are the words of a young Vietnamese woman named Dang Thuy Tram. Tram served as a doctor in Southern Vietnam during the American War in Vietnam. Each day, Tram wrote her thoughts and feelings in her diary. This private book was found by soldiers after her death. This diary is the base for the award winning Vietnamese film "Dung Dot" or "Don't Burn." Today's Spotlight is on this film and the diary of Dang Thuy Tram.

Voice 2

Dang Thuy Tram was born in the city of Hanoi in the country of Vietnam. She was born into a well educated family. Her father was a surgeon - a doctor that performs medical operations. And her mother taught pharmacology. She was an expert on Vietnamese plant medicines.

Voice 1

Tram's family thought education was very important. So, Tram received a very good education. After high school, Tram attended Hanoi University Medical School. There, she trained to be a surgeon, like her father.

Voice 2

After finishing medical school, Tram was invited to complete higher level studies in eye surgery. However, she chose instead to serve as a doctor in the war. And at the age of 24, she left for Southern Vietnam. There, she helped care for those injured by the war - both soldiers and common citizens.

Voice 1

For over three years Tram worked as a doctor in areas of conflict. She did her best to heal the physical wounds of war. She lived through many struggles and times of sadness. Tram died in January of 1970. But her story lived on in her diary. And Tram's spirit of hope makes her story powerful.

Voice 2

Soon after Tram's death, her diary was found by an American soldier named Fred Whitehurst. Whitehurst's job was to burn any non-military documents found by the Americans. Among these documents was the diary of Dang Thuy Tram. One day, he was about to burn the diary. But his Vietnamese translator, Huan, said to him,

Voice 4

"Do not burn this one, Fred. It has fire in it already."

Voice 1

Whitehurst did not burn the diary. Instead, against his orders, he brought it home with him to America. Whitehurst recognized what the Vietnamese translator had told him. This book was full of fire - full of emotion. Whitehurst read the diary. And it brought him many emotions.

Voice 2

Whitehurst was an American soldier, an enemy of Tram's soldiers. However, he still liked Tram and her diary very much. In fact, he said,

Voice 5

"Human to human, I fell in love with her."

Voice 1

For many years Whitehurst kept the diary. However, his goal was always to find Tram's family and return it to them. With the help of another American soldier and a Christian group in Vietnam, he was able to do this. And in 2005, Whitehurst returned Tram's diary to her mother.

Voice 2

After he returned the diary, Whitehurst became very close with Tram's family. Whitehurst visited the family in Vietnam. He became like a brother and son to Tram's sisters and mother. Whitehurst and Tram were enemies during the war. However, through her diary, they became like family.

Voice 1

In July of 2005, Tram's diary was published in Vietnam. The book sold over 400,000 copies. In 2007, the book was published in English and called "Last Night I Dreamed of Peace."

Voice 2

In 2009, the well-known Vietnamese film maker, Dang Nhat Minh decided to make Tram's diary into a film. He named the film, "Don't Burn" after the words of the Vietnamese translator.

Voice 1

For Minh, the film was not about the war. Instead, it was about the beauty and humanity of Tram. Minh told the actor that played Tram,

Voice 6

"..the film does not concentrate on describing the sadness of war, but shows the beautiful spirit of Ms. Tram."

Voice 2

And Tram did have a beautiful spirit. For over three years, Tram cared for the injured and sick. She worked in poor conditions. She would operate while bombs exploded in the air. She never had enough medicine, supplies or people to help. But these things did not destroy Tram's spirit.

Voice 1

Tram often sang to patients to ease their pain. Her patients and other doctors and nurses were like her brothers and sisters. She served them with all that she had.

Voice 2

At times, the war and conditions did make her sad. One day in April of 1968, she operated on a soldier. It should have been a simple operation. However, she did not have enough pain medication. She also found that his stomach was full of infection. Without the right tools, she could not find the cause of the infection. After this operation, she wrote,

Voice 3

"...I wanted to say, ‘If I cannot even heal people like you, this sadness will not leave my medical work.'"

Voice 1

But sadness did not over-fill Tram's spirit. In the middle of the war, she still had hope. She often wrote of love and peace for the future. Six months before Tram's death, she saw the dead body of a soldier and friend lying on the road. And she wrote these words,

Voice 3

"Death is so near and simple. What makes our lives move forward so strongly? Is it the love between our people? Is it because the hope for tomorrow still burns hot in our hearts? Is that it, my much loved friend?"

Voice 2

Tram's story is about one doctor during the American war in Vietnam. However, it is also about much more. Her story is a story of hope for love and peace. It is a hope common to all people. And this may be why the film, "Don't Burn" has been nationally and internationally recognized.

Voice 1

In September 2009, "Don't Burn" won the audience award at the Fukuoka Film Festival. This award is one of the highest for Asian films. And "Don't Burn" has also been chosen to compete for "Best Foreign Film" at the 82nd Oscars - the American Academy of Motion Picture awards. This is the first time a Vietnamese film has ever been chosen for this honor.

Voice 2

Tram's mother has been involved with both the publishing of Tram's diary and the film "Don't Burn." The film maker, Dang Nhat Minh, talked about her ideas with the newspaper VietNamNet.

Voice 6

"Dang Thuy Tram's mother said the film shows the spirit of the diary. She said she hoped that through the film, the world would get to know more about the Vietnamese people and the Vietnamese spirit."

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Ryan Geertsma. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can visit our website at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called "A Dream of Peace."

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Question:

Do you keep a diary? Why or why not?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
trangchelsea
said on December 23, 2009

Thank you so much !!!
This program brings me many emotions. I am Vietnamese people but I haven’t read ” The diary of Dang Thuy Tram” before (poor me!) But I change this immediately!
Thanks again for giving many topics about Vietnam !!! Merry Christmas, Spotlight :-*

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Mr Minh
said on December 25, 2009

A vibrant story this one. Inspiring, uplifting. Made me feel good all day

We had an extraordinary “American War” incident in our Dalat, Vietnam language club a few weeks ago. For some time a Colonel in the Vietnamese Army with a forty year service record had been attending, eager to practice his English

One night some of our members brought in a former enemy, A “Vietnam Veteran” soldier from Missouri, USA

The club was shocked at this surprise meeting. The room fell silent while the two men sized each other up, hesitated, then, finally, shook hands & bear hugged each other to roars of applause from the club members

I’m still in tears every time I think about it. God willing, I always will be

Merry Xmas Spotlight

Avatar Spotlight
Mr Minh
said on December 25, 2009

This remarkable story has bothered me for some days now

It should be a “tragedy”, designed to make us cry

Instead it inspires us to dream our dreams & do whatever is right for our community, whatever the cost may be

God bless your spirit Dang Thuy Tram

Chuc Mung Na Moi ! (Happy New Year)

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urizzi
said on December 26, 2009

Happy New year Spotlight, beutiful story.
Felicidades

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trangchelsea
said on January 14, 2010

To Mr Minh: thanks for your meaning sharing ^^

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Manh Tu
said on February 11, 2011

I am a Vietnamese person. I am proud of Tram. She was a brave and great woman!

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vukhucthienthanh
said on February 13, 2011

i’m a vietnamese,too and i’m very very grateful to the previous generations for their noble sacrifice, thanks to that today i’m living in a peace country.

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dhlinh
said on February 13, 2011

she’s a sample image of the young generation. The topic is very fascinating.I like it. thanks you

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kenhieuloilam
said on February 15, 2011

Through the wars there was lots of blood, tear and tragic consequences. Let us wish no war happening anywhere any more. I’m Vietnamese, I’ll continue to learn about the past wars, sacrifices in the past wars and dreams of peace. I wish the world peace. I hope with dreams of peace and love of peace we will always get peace.

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Nguyen Dang Manh Hung
said on August 21, 2015

i really thank for what she did for my generation to have a peaceful life, a life without war.

DacDanhBKIT's avatar
DacDanhBKIT
said on August 23, 2015

thank you. Beautiful story

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Nghia Van
said on August 31, 2015

This story brings me many emotions. Thank you very much!

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on December 03, 2018

One day. Last time. I started to writing my diary. But I did not continue long time. I stopped. I did not why! Maybe because I do not have a big events in my life!!!
When I done that I was felt happy.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on December 04, 2018

Yes! I wrote a diary during my experience fighting against “guerrilhas” in my country. My intention was to use it for a book I would write in the future. I expected to write this book for many and many years but I decided it will make more evil than good and I destroyed the diary. I have no regrets about it.

Avatar Spotlight
luatdq
said on December 05, 2018

Thank spotlight English for a topic.
Dang Thuy Tram diary becomes very famous in Việt Nam that is the base for the award-winning Vietnamese film “Đừng Đốt”. After the diary was public most of the people đin’t know who is Dang Thuy Tram and her private story however when the diary was public we know a beautiful story about a hero doctor in war.
Vietnam had 2 big wars though 30 years so Dang Thuy Tram and 30 million Vietnamese at the moment know the value of peace.
Nowadays, we do everything to protect peace in my country-Vietnam.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on December 05, 2018

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: to answer to the questions below
Date: Wednesday 05, December 2018
São Paulo city - São Paulo Brazil

Dear Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma:

First, I want to thank you for bringing us more one great article, thank you.
Questions:
Question 1 - Do you keep a diary? No, I do not.
Question 2 - Why or Why not? Because here in Brazil is not a tradition to keep a diary. I know diary only on television and soap opera.
Your regards,
Severino Ramos