Apparently concerned about influencing the U.S. presidential campaign, Vietnamese communist officials ordered a war museum in Ho Chi Minh City to remove a photograph of John Kerry from a display that was highlighted in “Unfit for Command,” the best-seller challenging the senator’s version of his military service and his antiwar activities.
Vietnam veteran Bob Paris at a Ho Chi Minh City war museum Friday with a photograph formerly on display. At right is a copy of “Unfit for Command.” (Courtesy: Bob Paris)
“Unfit for Command” described the photo as “part of an exhibit honoring heroes who had helped the Vietnamese communists win the war against the United States.”
An angered American veteran of the Vietnam War who learned of the photograph through the book, traveled last week to the former Saigon to see it for himself.
But Bob Paris, an ex-Army helicopter pilot who now lives in Hawaii, said he discovered Thursday that the museum manager removed the picture from the display about one month ago and stuffed it in a desk drawer.
Saturday, however, Paris returned to the museum to find the picture had been put back on the wall – this time in a display clearly designed to emphasize Kerry’s diplomatic efforts as a senator rather than his more controversial antiwar activities.
“Unfit for Command” co-author Jerome Corsi believes the removal and recasting of the photo is indication Vietnamese officials don’t want to embarrass Kerry.
“The communists don’t want to do anything that would be detrimental to him being elected,” Corsi told WND. “If he wants foreign leaders to support him, he can certainly count on Vietnam’s communist regime.”
As WND reported in June, the Vietnamese Communist War Remnants Museum – formerly known as the “War Crimes Museum” – displayed the picture in a hall that, according to a plaque, honored activists around the world for their “wholehearted support and strong encouragement to our people’s patriotic resistance against the U.S. for national salvation.”
The photograph shows Sen. Kerry meeting communist officials in 1993 as a member of a U.S. delegation.
The English placard below the photo read: “Mr. Do Muoi, Secretary General of the Vietnamese Communist Party met with Congressman and Veterans Delegation in Vietnam (July 15-18, 1993).”
In an e-mail obtained by WND, Paris said that when he arrived Thursday, he couldn’t find the photo and began searching the grounds.
He found the manager and asked about it.
“This is when I witnessed [the manager] take the picture out of his desk drawer, and I was told that he had been directed to remove the picture a month earlier,” Paris said.
The veteran said he was able to get permission to have himself photographed with the Kerry picture Friday afternoon.
Vietnam veteran Bill Lupetti took this photograph of a display at a Ho Chi Minh City museum honoring war protesters.
The first documentation of the picture was acquired by Vietnam veteran Bill Lupetti and publicized by Vietnam Vets for the Truth, a group that held a rally against Kerry’s candidacy in Washington in September.
The group said the photograph’s “unquestionable significance” lies in its placement in the American protesters’ section of the museum.
“The Vietnamese communists clearly recognize John Kerry’s contributions to their victory,” group spokesman Jeff Epstein said in June.
Now, according to a report from Paris yesterday, “There was a new display of pictures and the hard communist war rhetoric that was present in the old display is now been changed. Kerry is no longer featured as a North Vietnamese war hero, but as a visiting American diplomat.”
Corsi believes Vietnamese officials’ attempt to modify the display reinforces a major point made in “Unfit for Command.”
“The Vietnamese communists have always seen John Kerry as their go-to guy,” he said.