Oct. 6, 2018

HOW CAN THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT LOOK-THE-OTHER-WAY?!?!?

The following incident was documented in my 1990 journal, the year I traveled the length of The Great Wall of China.  It also appears in my book, THE BEAUTY QUEEN.  Please Read and ask yourself: “How much do I trust the American Government? Do they really care about those soldiers from WWII and the Vietnam War who were lost, never found...those who are listed as: MIA--Missing in Action?

  MIAs are our husbands--brothers--sons-- fathers-- and we deserve to know their fate.

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“Reaching Datong, a remote town in Northwest China, I made the decision to camp for the night. Darkness was hours away but I had been walking steadily—all day—and mostly uphill. The mileage meter around my neck indicated I had covered 30 miles since six o’clock that morning. I deserved a rest. Glancing around at the magnificent view and beautiful mountains, I noticed movement on a taller mountain next to me. Wanting a closer look, I removed my binoculars from their case.  Adjusting their strength for the closest-possible look, I was shocked to see Chinese in military uniforms—their rifles pointed at three men.

The men were loading trucks with what appeared to be chunks of black rock, probably coal. Most disturbing, the men loading the trucks did not look—Oriental. Instead, the three men—broad shouldered, blondish and light brown hair, with whiter skin—looked Caucasian. The longer I stared, the more excited I became.

The men wore faded tank tops; camouflage pants, high-top military boots and all three had, what appeared to be, something around their necks....dog tags, maybe?!?!?

They struggled to walk and looking closer, I saw the three wore shackles around their ankles. I watched the guards prod the prisoners with rifles, like animals, as the weary-looking men slowly lifted rock after rock into waiting trucks.

Eventually darkness forced me to put the binoculars away, pick up my journal and document what I had seen. I referenced each and every detail, providing as much information as possible.

Trying to make sense of it all, I thought back to a conversation I had with a Chinese man who once worked in the American Embassy. He mentioned I should be very careful on my Great Wall Journey because there were work camps and prison installations in China’s Northwestern Provinces; he warned me to avoid the “closed” towns and villages. He’d heard rumors about American soldiers being held as prisoners in work camps and knew, from reliable sources, that American Soldiers were definitely captured during the Vietnam War and traded to China. If the men on that mountain were American MIAs from the Vietnam War, no one would look for them in China.

The war ended years ago, and by now, these men were considered dead and their files sealed. I felt frantic to alert the American government. I’d learned not to trust anyone at the American Embassy in China. I would have to wait until I finished my journey and returned to America.

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In 1991, I traveled from Atlanta, Georgia to Washington DC to meet with the United States Director in charge of Asian Affairs.

Congratulating me on my successful journey of The Great Wall, the director listened as I related what I had seen outside Datong.

I presented the Director with pages copied from my journal, describing the men I had seen and, as I spoke, I held up the simple map I’d drawn, showing the particular mountain where I’d seen the men.

Excited to finally get my information in front of an important government figure who could pass it on to the proper authorities, I handed the map to the director. Without glancing at the papers in his hand, he began ripping the map and journal pages into tiny pieces and dropping them into the wastebasket beside his desk.

Looking at me with only a hint of a smile, he thanked me for visiting his office, then stated he was quite busy and asked me to leave. Confused and shocked, I began protesting his actions, to question his casual attitude over such a valuable discovery when he interrupted me by standing and stating emphatically, “You must leave now.”

Following me to the door, the Director cautioned me with these words: “Forget what you think you saw, destroy any written notes, any photos you took, and never share your thoughts or information with anyone.”

He dismissed me with a pretentious smile, a quick handshake, and these cautionary words: “Trust me, my dear, you saw nothing.”

From my book: THE BEAUTY QUEEN, Let No Deed Go Unpublished.