Posted: 2:04 am EDT
Look who was in Vietnam to celebrate the 239th birthday of U.S. independence and the 20th anniversary of the normalization of U.S.-Vietnam relations!
Via US Mission Vietnam:
President Bill Clinton traveled to Hanoi to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the historic normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. The 1995 announcement was one of many actions taken by President Clinton to help the two nations embrace the spirit of reconciliation and move into the future together, including the lifting of the trade embargo and the negotiation of a bilateral trade agreement.
On July 11, 1995, President Clinton announced “the normalization of diplomatic relationships with Vietnam,” paving the way for historic engagement. This breakthrough led to the Comprehensive Partnership signed by President Obama and President Sang in 2013 and to the shared vision that characterizes the multi-faceted bilateral relationship that guides our two countries into the future. With eyes fixed on that bright future, the United States Government is proud to highlight the progress made by our two countries by hosting receptions in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City; and by hosting programs throughout 2015 in Vietnam’s 63 provinces.
Ambassador Osius spoke of optimism at USCG Ho Chi Minh’s July 1 event:
“As I look back, I recall that first Independence Day event 18 years ago was not as elegant as this one, there were fewer guests, there were fewer American officials working here, fewer American companies …. But still, that event was important symbolically because it represented a new era between our two countries…. What we learned during those early years… was that despite being former enemies, the U.S. and Vietnam could build a new relationship…. So, as Ambassador, I am optimistic.
Here is an excerpt from President Clinton’s remarks:
When the Ambassador was up here introducing me in Vietnamese, your Deputy Prime Minister said he’s pretty good. [Laughter]. I said well he should be, he was part of the original crew that helped us set up shop here, and then he came back and worked in the National Security Council when I was in office. I’m glad he got a well-deserved promotion and I thank him for what he’s doing.
I think most every Vietnamese person could say what Vietnam has gotten out of it. I would like to tell you that from my point of view America may have won the war, so my friends say. To me the symbol of why we did the right thing will always be Ambassador Pete Peterson and his wonderful wife. Many of you know, he spent more than six years as a guest of the Vietnamese government during the war. He then went home and did his best to put his family back together, ran for Congress, got elected, became our Ambassador — our first Ambassador, one of the best appointments I ever made — and then married his wonderful wife and moved to Australia so he could come to Vietnam once a month and visit here.
I tell you all this because for millions of Americans 20 years ago, actually July 11th, was a different form of independence day. Vietnam had captured our imagination and taken up so much space in our spirit that there were people who were wounded and injured, and no American my age didn’t know at least someone who was killed here. There were raging debates at home. People on both sides thought the others were crazy. And somehow when finally our Vietnamese friends said they would accept us and we said we would accept them, we were set free. Those being set free included those who made this day possible, members of the Senate in both parties including President Johnson’s son-in-law, Senator Chuck Robb who supported this, and who probably lost more men under his command, more than any other person working on this; Senator Max Cleland from Georgia who lost two legs and an arm; and of course Senator John Kerry, now Secretary of State; and Senator John McCain, now Chairman of the Armed Services Committee of the Senate. I want to thank them. They were the win beneath the wings of this movement. They made what I was able to do as President possible. They knew it was a bigger movement in America than it was in Vietnam.
His full remarks here: http://vietnam.usembassy.gov/clinton-070215.html.