Offensive Tet

Tet is the Vietnamese name of the Chinese lunar New Year celebrated throughout Southeast Asia every year. Tet falls on different days between January or February. In the American history books Tet has another meaning. The Tet Offensive of Feb. 1968 was when the Vietcong left their cover and overwhelmed the American and South Vietnamese forces on a brief takeover of Saigon. Although Charlie suffered enormous casualties in the following weeks, the Tet Offensive was the beginning of the end to America's occupation after television transmitted images of the U.S. losing the war. This subsequently swayed public opinion against the conflict.

Starting off the Chinese New Year with a bang.

The Viet Cong brilliantly corresponded their invasion during the time of Tet. The 3-day celebration is marked by unrelenting strings of firecrackers going off everywhere. This confused the Allies who could not distinguish the explosions from gunfire.

Scavenger kids search for unexploded poppers.

I was in Saigon for the 25th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, but there was no memorial commemorating the event. The Vietnamese just assume let go of the bad memories and get on with their lives. The Tet I witnessed was the same Tet of centuries past -- thousands of strings of firecrackers going off night and day for 72 hours. It didn't take long until the continuous sound of poppers got me on edge with a throbbing head and ringing ears...

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