Forty years ago on August 15, 1973, the U.S. military ceased all military actions and airstrikes in Vietnam, ending the war for the United States. Four decades later, the war is still not over. Unexploded bombs and landmines left over from that conflict still claim lives and limbs.
Since 1973 there have been over 40,000 civilian deaths and 60,000 injuries. Just this month a nine-year-old boy is lucky to be alive after he was burned from head to toe and broke his arm from an encounter with a piece of war-era unexploded ordnance.
To mark this anniversary with a call for action and more funding to address this issue, a group of celebrities and other notable professionals are collectively saying, “40 Years is Too Long, But Not Too Late.” They are supporting a campaign to benefit Mines Advisory Group America (MAG) and Clear Path International (CPI) in their work to remove unexploded ordnance from Vietnamese soil and assist accident survivors.
The event will kick off with a promotion on Reddit.com during a visit to Quang Tri Province, Vietnam by actor Jonathan Goldsmith, the man who plays Dos Equis iconic character “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Thanks to Cathay Pacific Airlines, Jonathan will perform a demolition with MAG America and visit with landmine accident survivors with Clear Path International.
“The Vietnamese children, the parents and the grandparents have had to live with these bombs on a daily basis,” Goldsmith said. “They have lived with this fear for over 40 years. This is a man-made problem and I think we have an obligation to do what we can for future generations. I am glad to help.”
Folk singer Nanci Griffith has also been an activist for landmine clearance for many years and travelled to Vietnam for the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War in 2005 to highlight the continuing landmine and unexploded ordnance issue there. As we are now at the 40th anniversary of the U.S. military withdrawal, Nanci urges, “I have always believed people need to stand up and make their voices heard to create change. And 40 years is just too long for any person committed to peace to watch children still die from the remnants of a war we left so long ago. Help support this campaign for Vietnam.”
John Densmore, drummer for the legendary rock group, The Doors, along with John Perry Barlow, lyricist for the Grateful Dead, and Ben Taylor, son of folk rock artists James Taylor and Carly Simon, will also be promoting the campaign with online promotions later in the month.
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MAG America has cleared over 7 million square meters of land contaminated by unexploded ordnance in Vietnam since 1999, benefitting more than 1.8 million people who can now farm their land, build their homes and let their children play safely without fear of injury or death from accidental explosions. MAG America has worked in over 35 countries around the world clearing landmines, unexploded ordnance, and other remnants of conflict. For more information go to MAGAmerica.org or facebook.com/magamerica.
Clear Path International has been working to address the unexploded ordnance issue in Vietnam since 2000 and has helped thousands of Vietnamese recover from accidents involving unexploded ordnance. Clear Path also works in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Afghanistan. For more information, visit cpi.org or facebook.com/clearpathinternational.