It was on August 10, 1961, fifty-five years ago, that the US military first sprayed Agent Orange in Vietnam, the defoliant containing the toxic chemical dioxin that has resulted in the deaths of millions of Vietnamese people.
Millions more continue to suffer from cancers and birth defects that have affected three generations including new-born babies that arrive into this world suffering from lingering illnesses and birth defects caused by Agent Orange.
In an on-going campaign to raise awareness about the protracted effects of this poisonous legacy, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh announced at a press conference on July 7 in Hanoi that a series of public events are planned.
The third edition of an emulation congress for AO victims is set for July 12-13, the Lieutenant General said, at which roughly 300 delegates will coordinate mobilization efforts to help families of Agent Orange victims.
An international seminar on August 8-9 will address measures underway to get those responsible – the US government and the chemical companies that made Agent Orange including Dow Chemical and Monsanto – to compensate the victims and clean up the land they poisoned.
A memorial will take place on August 10 that is expected to be attended by more than 1,000 to commemorate the 55th anniversary at which 55 seconds of silence will be observed in remembrance contemplation, prayer, and reflection of all the suffering Agent Orange has caused.
In addition, said Lieutenant General Rinh, an Agent Orange exhibition will stage at the Vietnam Military History Museum during which the government will award homes to the victims of AO victims residing in Thua Thien-Hue, Dong Nai, Long An, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc and Ninh Binh provinces.
The awards of the homes have been made possible by the generosity of the Vietnam People’s Navy High Command and the Vietnam-US Steel Company, who gave nearly US$72,000 and US$112,500, respectively, to assist with providing housing for Agent Orange victims and their families.
This August 10 is a chance for diverse communities from all corners of the globe and nationalities, said Lieutenant General Rinh, to come together in support of all those who continue to suffer from the devastating effects of Agent Orange./.