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Message about peace from the war remembrance garden of former naval soldier

Veteran Tran Van Quan has spent a lot of effort and time collecting leftover bomb and ammo shells to create a garden of war objects offering meaningful messages.

Quan, 49, was born and grew up in Ham Ninh commune of Quang Ninh district in Quang Binh province, the area of fire and bombardment by the US. In 1995, he joined the Navy. In 2001, he was discharged from the army and left his hometown for HCM City.

During the time in the army, Quan collected wartime memorabilia. In 2018, he returned to his hometown, opened a cafe and began his dream to build his own "museum" of war souvenirs.

The museum is actually a garden next to the café, where war memorabilia are displayed. Tens of bomb and mine shells have been collected and displayed in harmonization with natural plants.

“When I talked about my plan to collect bomb shells, bullet casings and war memorabilia to display in our garden, my wife and relatives objected to the idea. At a meeting with local residents, they also expressed their disagreement with my idea,” he recalled.

“People thought that it would be dangerous to keep bombs and bullets. I had to explain to them that bomb shells and bullet casings have no explosives and detonators, so they are harmless. The collection of these things are not prohibited by law,” he said. “When I began displaying the items, the commune police sent staff to my home to inspect my work. They saw the scrap bomb shells and bullet casings and they supported my plan."

In order to collect wartime items, Quan drove his motorbike to scrap ships along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, from Nghe An to Phu Yen. He gave his address to people and scrap dealers, asking them to contact him if they found bomb shells and bullet casings. 

He said that he faced difficulties during the collection process. However, local authorities and people understood the significance of his work and gave him strong support.

“My teammates in the old unit gave me objects for display. To date, I have collected 70 bomb and mine shells, including M118 and MK84 bomb shells and other items,” he said.

Quan’s museum is open to receive people free of charge. Many of them are travelers who go there to learn more about history and the danger from bombs and mines.

The museum is also open to students. They visit when receiving history lessons. They can see with their eyes and touch war objects with their hands to better understand the lessons they received from school.

Ha Nguyen

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