Veteran dedicated to war memorabilia

VietNamNet Bridge – In war veteran Bui Van Binh’s 20sq.m room, most of the space is taken up by more than 600 pieces of war memorabilia, collected over the past four years.

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Bui Van Binh introduces war memorabilia to young generation. — Photo

Known as Mr Binh’s museum by locals in Phong Chau Town, Phu Ninh District, Phu Tho Province, the little room full of war memories has become a familiar place for local war veterans to gather and a place for young people to learn about history.

Cartridges, padded cotton waistcoats, war maps and even letters written by soldiers are carefully kept in good condition on the wooden shelves or in the glass cupboards.

Binh said that each time he takes them out for clean, he feels his comrades are standing by his side.

The piece of memorabilia he treasures most is a machine used to remove bullets, donated from overseas to Viet Nam in the war against the US.

“In the middle of 1972, when I was on reconnaissance duty, I was wounded. A piece of bullet entered my arm,” he recalled.

“Doctors used this machine to remove the bullet from my arm. Thanks to the machine, I recovered quickly and continued the fight,” he said.

“This box was presented to me by the daughter and son-in-law of Vu Kim Khanh, a former leading nurse of a unit in brigade 312,” he continued, talking about a ifferent item.

The box used to store needles was made in Germany in 1940s and taken from French soldiers in 1950.

“I survived thanks to the sacrifice of my comrades. We promised to go back to our battlefield, Quang Tri Old City, to offer incense for dying men.

“This fueled motivation to hold solidarity activities and collect war memorabilia. It is to pay tribute to my comrades who laid down their lives,” he said.

Voluntary and silent contribution

At the beginning, Binh’s family, especially his wife prevented him from going to collect war memorabilia.

“She said that I am mad and I should spend my retirement relaxing, taking care of grandchildren, playing sports or visiting comrades. She was worried about my work,” he said.

“But when she understood my heart, she and my children supported my collection,” he said.

Every month, Binh spends part of his retired teacher’s pension and veteran allowance on travelling Phu Tho Province and other localities to look for items.

No matter if it is sunny or rainy, whenever he gets information about any antique war items, he sets off.  

He even went to see a family four times to persuade them to donate an item.

Understanding his passion, many veterans living far away donated objects to him. Most recently, veteran Le Kim Bang, member of War Veteran Association of HCM City’s Go Vap District gave Binh three items, including a small-sized wireless telegraph machine seized from American soldiers.

Pass on the next generation

Each item collected by Binh recalls a memory of war in Viet Nam. Some objects were taken by Vietnamese soldiers from enemies, such as chairs made from B52 airplanes, cups, combs and flower vases made from cartridges.

Binh carefully takes photos of each item and puts them in albums with detailed information.

On special occasions such as festivals and Vietnamese War Veteran and Invalids Day on July 27, students visit Binh’s museum.

“The museum helps us learn about national history, our predecessors who sacrificed their blood to gain national peace, independence,” Bui Huu Bang, a youth in Phong Chau Town said.

Nguyen Minh Phu, deputy chairman of Phong Chau Town’s People’s Committee said Binh’s museum has made an important contribution to local people, especially young generations so they can understand national history. 


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