DANANG, Vietnam — Le Ly Hayslip took on the French and American armies as a child in Ky La, a small farming village where she was born outside of Da Nang in central Vietnam.
She married an American contractor during the Vietnam War, then made it in the United States after he died.
Le Ly conquered the publishing world with her best-seller “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places,” and she worked with Oliver Stone on the movie based on that book, “Heaven and Earth.”
She has survived the bureaucratic intricacies of founding and operating in the NGO (non-governmental organization) world in the United States and Vietnam.
However, with the expansion and development going on today in Vietnam, local landowners like Le Ly are in the position of being pushed aside for the so-called larger good.
Ex GIs from the Plattsburgh area — Corky Reinhart, Neil Tallon, Pete Conroy and me — along with Mark Conroy from Danang, accompanied Le Ly for a visit to her ancestral home.
She just recently returned from the United States, where she was awarded the Ryan C. Crocker Global Citizen of the Year award.
“They’ve already pushed a large highway through the rice fields in back of my village, and now they’re trying to take my front yard for a road expansion at our home farm here,” Le Ly told us.
“Looks just like the Northway when it pushed through our farm in Beekmantown,” Pete said.
“Looks just like they did to (Scomotion Creek) during the early urban renewal on North Margaret Street in Plattsburgh,” Tallon observed.
‘IT WAS TERRIBLE’
The trail from Le Ly’s house to the rice fields out back was a major infiltration route into the village for the opposition in both the French and the American wars.