I had two personal encounters with Ted Kennedy. The first was in Saigon in 1967 when I met him for dinner. We talked about war refugees. The second was almost 15 years later. We met in Washington. We talked about nuclear war and global poverty.
During the Vietnam War, I was a volunteer working for a nonprofit organization called International Voluntary Services in the province town of Tuy Hoa in central Vietnam. I had been in Vietnam for less than a year and had been working, as the only American, in the Dong Tac refugee camp. It was a god-forsaken place, home to some 20,000 refugees, mostly the elderly, women and children. Their homes had been destroyed in the fighting; their men were warriors for one side or the other. These refugees had been “resettled” on the sandy beaches along the coast and were living in unimaginable poverty in tin huts, with almost nothing to eat and no means of earning money for food. The war was creative a living hell for the peasants farmers of Vietnam.