October 2013 Newsletter – Message from the Executive Director

Posted: Oct 31, 2013


In This Issue

-Message from the Executive Director

-News from Laos

-Legacies’ Events this Month


Tony Innouvong, My Lo, Jennifer Phongsavan, & Channapha Khamvongsa

Related News & Events

NYT Article: William H. Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Volatile Laos and Iran, Is Dead at 90


IRIN News: Flooding unearths Cambodia’s landmines

Book Release: Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in LaosNovember 12, 2013 in Oakland, CA

From Our Donor

“I donate to and support Legacies of War because I continue to experience the impact of their work. This experience has given me a better understanding of my parents’ past and the decisions they had to make, the courage to ask questions, the compassion to take action and the knowledge to share with others.

-Minh Fongthavisay

 Get Involved!

5 Things you can to do this month:


1. Cold weather is now here so be sure to stock up on some delicious teas to keep you keep toasty and warm! One dollar from every Global Teas pouch you purchase will go to support Legacies of War. Thank you, Global Teas!


2.To see a glimpse of the UXO impact on Laos, be on the lookout for the U.S. release of the Lao-Australian produced film, “The Rocket,” starting this winter/upcoming year.


3. Watch the short film, “Laos Free,” by Cory Sheldon, which was featured at the “Laos: Land of a Million Bombs” workshop at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi.


4. Start your seasonal giving early and donate at least $25 to receive a Legacies of War T-shirt gift to give away or wear to show off your support for the cause!


5. In the spirit of the approaching November election in mind, read up on the letters and requests we sent to U.S. Congressmen and send your own!

Thank You to Our Donors This Month!

Kate Beck (in honor of Channapha Khamvongsa for making a difference), Michael Burton, Judith Hiniker, Catherine Lutz (in honor of Lianna Schechter), Geoffrey Hutchinson (on behalf of the children of Laos), Gregory Most, Dr. Kenneth & Kimberly Rutherford, and 

Global Teas!


As you plan for your year-end giving, please consider supporting Legacies of War.

Thank you /
Kop chai / Ua koj tsaug





Photo credit: Paul Wager

Farming season in Laos can lead to UXO accidents as farmers light camp fires to keep warm while tending to their fields. Read about the recent accident below.


Message from the Executive Director


“All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.” – Buddhist Teachings


This past month was marked by some solemn events related to Laos, including another UXO accident causing serious injury to a rice farmer, a tragic Lao plane crash in the Mekong River that killed 49 people, and the passing of U.S. Ambassador William Sullivan, who oversaw the bombing of Laos. These events make me reflect on the fragility of life and how we make sense of tragedy, loss and a painful history, the foundation of Legacies’ mission.


Legacies’ work is grounded in creating opportunities for reconciling our personal and collective history with war and refuge, as well as realizing the transformative healing power of shared experiences and community. We do this through programs that allow people to reflect on the legacy of the U.S. bombing of Laos from their own perspective. Legacies of War educates people about, as one supporter puts it, “what we don’t know or have simply forgotten.”


Through film screenings, traveling exhibitions, speakers tour, and panel discussions that bring together various perspectives, including veterans who participated in the bombings and those who survived it, we provide people with ways to learn about an unknown or forgotten history. This awareness-raising sometimes leads to shock and anger, while often unearthing grief, sadness, and forgiveness as ways to heal from a dark past. And through our education and advocacy programs, we offer ways for people to come together and help to create positive change.


The recent losses during this fall season, remind us that change is often painful. But suffering, whether by one or many, personal or experienced from a distance, offers us an opportunity to reflect on our role and responsibility to help ease others’ pain and in the process deepen our connection to something much bigger than ourselves. Legacies of War hopes that through our work, we not only help to remove the tangible remnants of war, but that we develop an enduring shared process of how communities overcome devastation and begin to piece together what once were fractured lives and communities towards something resembling a whole.

News from Laos

UXO Accident: Rice farmer severely injured trying to keep warm in the field


This time of the year, farmers and their families spend most days cultivating their rice fields. This highly anticipated season is usually cause for celebration as it fills granaries with grains, feeding these farming communities for months to come. Yet, on September 28, 2013, in Sepon District of Savannakhet, a 55-year old man was working in the field and started a fire to keep warm when a blast went off. The fire had unearthed a UXO, which exploded causing injury to his body and tore off his right wrist. He was initially treated at his village and was transferred to a provincial hospital, where he continues to receive medical care and follow up services through the War Victims Medical Fund provided by World Education.


Lao Plane Crash


Legacies of War sends our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the plane crash victims that occurred in Laos this month. On October 16, 2013, a Lao Airlines plane carrying 44 passengers and five crew members crashed into the Mekong River due to extreme weather. According to the Associated Press, the passengers included 16 Lao nationals, seven French, six Australians, five Thais, three Koreans, three Vietnamese and one person each from China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the United States.

Legacies of War’s Events this Month

Legacies’ Outreach at “The Rocket”
Film Screening


Photos (clockwise): Introduction of the film (top right). Film attendees learn about Legacies and the UXO issue in Laos (bottom right). Full house at the National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium (bottom left). The official movie poster for “The  Rocket” (top left).


On October 22, 2013, Legacies of War conducted outreach at the Washington, D.C. premiere of the critically acclaimed feature film, “The Rocket,” co-presented by the National Geographic, the Embassy of Australia, and the Environmental Film Festival at the National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium. At the event, Legacies’ team had an informational table to provide audiences with more information about the issue of UXO, which was highlighted in the film. If you missed the opportunity to join us at this D.C. premiere, look out for a possible release across U.S. cinemas next year.


“Laos: Land of a Million Bombs” workshop in Lorman, Mississippi


Photos (clockwise): Tony Innouvong screens “Laos Free” (top). Legacies of War’s information table (right). Students participate in the workshop simulation (bottom right). Students intently listening to the workshop presentation (bottom left).

On October 23, 2013, the International and Multicultural Student Organization (IMSO) at Alcorn State University, in partnership with Legacies of War, presented a workshop entitled “Laos: Land of a Million Bombs.” Students, faculty, and staff explored the bombings in Laos and its impact on the country. The IMSO president, Tony Innouvong, facilitated the workshop and engaged participants in a thought-provoking discussion during which many participants were shocked to learn about the bombings and this hidden part of history. As part of the workshop, a simulation took the participants through a field of replicated bomblets while blindfolded. The experience mimicked the lack of exposure that UXOs in Laos receives in the U.S., and how dangerous they are because they may not be visible to Lao villagers. A guide helped the blindfolded participants through the exercise, acting as the knowledge and voice that are powerful tools to help those affected by the bombings. By the end of the workshop, many were electrified. Alcorn State University community members were inspired to mobilize their voices to speak about this untold reality and to change this legacyy. If you would like to hold similar workshops in your school or community, please contact us.

Category: Newsletters