Thursday, July 17, 2014

Who Knew?

Between 1971 and 1990, I lived in an 1930s-era apartment house in D.C.’s West End neighborhood. A recent issue of The Washington Post ran an obituary for a former neighbor in that building: David Truong. An accompanying photo prompted a serious case of déjà vu. I remembered his heavy, black framed eye glasses.

Before his arrest in 1978 we occasionally chatted while doing laundry. We remained strangers and never discussed anything important while taking care of a boring chore in our bleak, basement laundry room.

Turns our David Truong was convicted as a spy for the Viet Cong. He had viewed is actions as a personal mission to end the war in his homeland and to improve relations between the U.S. and the now Communist Viet Nam. The courts didn’t agree.

Educated in France and later at Stanford, he had been a respected source of information on Capitol Hill. In 1968, columnist Drew Pearson wrote that David Truong was probably the most effective of all protestors against the Viet Nam conflict.

It makes me a little sad to think he will be remembered as a foreign spy. I think that, in his heart, he was trying to broker peace and restore prosperity in a country devastated by decades of colonialism, dictatorships and warfare. But what do I know.