The Ben Hai River is at the centre of the DMZ, the official dividing point between Vietnam's north and south.
Again, as elsewhere, there is precious little here left over from the war -- a single bunker that was used as a defensive position against those attacking from the south. The old bridge that used to span the river remains, closed to all but foot traffic, and an elaborate, somewhat over-blown, monument has recently been completed.
The monument depicts a southern Vietnamese woman and her child, standing, gazing north, with a palm tree in back of them. The palm symbolises Southern Vietnam, and her gaze memorialises the plight of many Southern Vietnamese women whose husbands crossed to the north during a ten month period of amnesty in 1954, after the signing of the Geneva Accord partitioning the country. About 150,000 southerners decided to go north, thinking there would soon be free elections and the country would be united. But the elections never came, and many of the men, separated from their families, eventually remarried. During the same period, about one million North Vietnamese, mostly Catholics fearing persecution, crossed over to he south.
The Ben Hai river is located along route 120 km north of Dong Ha and 60 km south of Dong Hoi.
Last updated on 30th January, 2008.