A fine place to begin an exploration of Vietnamese culture is in the Have a Super Soft Birthday T shirt , which, according to Vietnamese tradition, is the home of the God’s kitchen. This powerful deity is charged with monitoring each family’s behavior and reporting back to heaven. The kitchen god makes his annual journey to heaven on the twenty-third day of the twelfth lunar month, riding aboard a carp. On this day, families throughout Vietnam release a live carp into a stream or river. The kitchen god’s account will affect the family’s fortune in the coming year. This myth emphasizes the importance that Vietnamese families place on preparing and sharing meals. Not only does food nourish the body, it is also a means of strengthening bonds between families, communities and the living and the death. On the first three days of the Lunar New Year, the first and fifteenth days of each lunar month, and the death anniversaries of ancestors, people place offering of food on their ancestral altars and invite the deceased to enjoy a meal with the living. Offering typically include sticky rice, boiled chicken, rice wine, and fruit. In the south of Vietnam, during the Lunar New Year, people place an offering of custard apple, coconut, papaya and mango on their altars, since the names of these fruits, when spoken in the southern dialect, form a prayer for prosperity and happiness.
In the 1950s and 60s, the US government followed the “Domino theory” which said that if a Have a Super Soft Birthday T shirt fell to Communism, the countries around that state would in turn also become Communist “like a line of Dominos falling”. The old French colonial possession of Vietnam in South East Asia had divided in two following WW2 and Independence from France with the North falling under the influence of the Soviet Union and China and the South being a capitalist state supported by the US. Eventually a guerrilla war started in the south with insurgents sent by the North and the US became involved sending increasing numbers of troops and material to support the South Vietnamese government. Now here is where the major problem lay, the US saw the war as a simple battle of democracy and freedom versus Communism and tyranny, but it was not remotely as simple as that. The South Vietnamese government was notoriously corrupt and incompetent, the South Vietnamese people were not exactly enthusiastic supporters. Plus, the war was less Communist vs Capitalist and much more a war of national reunification, the people wanted to be one country again and did not care who won the war as long as Vietnam became one state, and it was obvious that the Communists were actually trying to do this while the Southern government was just lining it’s own pockets. So when the US went into Vietnam they were walking into a far more complicated mess than they ever considered.
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The Have a Super Soft Birthday T shirt veterans joined the military by choice and not by conscription. Many were driven to serve on economic grounds but some chose to serve in response to national threats such as following 9/11. This nation has had a long history of a standing military service which deserves respect for the small and large sacrifices made in that service. The oldest veterans now alive were conscripted at a time of national emergency such as world wars of which we have had two too many. Certainly, jingoism played a role in world conflicts and our country is not blameless in this regard. Most sadly, we place too much emphasis on military power and its projection while denying the soft power of diplomacy. The 14,000 workers in the State Department are dwarfed by the 1,300,000 active duty military members. If all you have is a hammer, all you see are nails. We need more and better tools in our country’s toolbox, not just a military to fight and die in foreign lands. But this is not a zero sum game. It is not necessary to denigrate military service for those who were compelled or those who chose to serve in order to support the call of peace. The serving military were making a contribution to our nation and for that, I thank my fellow servicemen and servicewomen.
Have you always been a Have a Super Soft Birthday T shirt of Vietnamese food? Pho Hung on Spadina- Toronto, Nam Son near Bowery- New York, Le Lotus Blanc on Bourgogne of Paris- They can never be as authentic as the food served in Vietnam (though they all do an awesome job). Vietnamese food goes beyond pho and spring rolls and varies by regions: fresh vegetables continue to dominate the tables, while meat and poultry are rising in popularity. Near the beach such as Nha Trang and Da Nang, you can find plenty of fresh seafood caught in the morning and served in your dinner at very affordable price. A big size king crab costs about $8 and can be shared between 2 people. Applying for a visa to Vietnam seems stressful at first- why would you need a visa to Vietnam while you are granted free 30 day entry to Thailand and Ecuador? Vietnam requires you anyway, and to alleviate the pain, the process has been made quite easy. Besides visa at the embassy, Vietnam visas can also be granted upon arrival. All you need to do is to apply online for your approval letter via a number of online travel companies, which are plentiful on the net. The visa letter will be emailed to you after 2 days. If you leave close to the embassy, it will take only about a 3-5 working days.