Friday, March 11, 2005

Day 5: March 11, 2005

Our morning was spent doing interviews with the Voice ofVietnam Radio and VTV Television. It was an opportunity for our team to begin to articulate our feelings about what we had seen over the last days to the world. The children have certainly made in impact on all of our lives. The reality is my government, the United States government, committed chemical warfare that has affected innocent children. These children were never our enemies, yet they suffer like they are guilty of some crime or act. As Americans we were able to tell the Vietnamese people that we are joining the fight for justice.
News, though, of the case filed by the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin against Dow Chemical, Monsanto Chemical, Pharmacia Corp. (and others) reached us. As we started the first interview with the Voice of Vietnam Radio, we learned Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern New York Federal Court dismissed the case. For a few moments, the team sat in silence, shocked of the news. At the moment, a surge of emotions flooded each person. Anger, shock, surprise, frustration are a few emotions felt that morning. How could my government, a government that says it stands for justice, turn a blind eye to injustice?
These feelings did not leave us paralyzed for long. After the initial shock had worn off, we rebounded with a message of hope. In each interview, team members shared heartfelt messages about how sad it was to see what the United States government had done to the Vietnamese people. But also intertwined was the optimism we have for the court case and justice. Members talked about the complexities of the American court system and that this dismissal was not the end of the case. Appeal to a higher court would be the next step. The Vietnamese people needed to be patient and in time justice would be served (unfortunately time is not on the side of some victims). We are hopeful and we wanted to share that with Vietnam. Victims of Agent Orange, their families and friends needed to know this was not the end of the case, nor would we allow this to be the end. We stand with them, the people of Viet Nam.
By Matt Laferty

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