Like so many in the U.S., my father was a Marine who served his country in Vietnam. While he was away, he sent letters and reel-to-reel tapes to me, My Mom and my brother letting us in on his adventures, his fears and his never-ending love for us. Daddy was one of millions of men that ventured down the Ho-Chi-Minh trail, otherwise known as "blood road" for all the blood shed by both sides during the war.
While watching this documentary, I couldn't help thinking about the fact that our family was one of the lucky ones. My Dad returned from the war in one piece, but there are so many that were "missing in action".
One of those missing soldiers was Captain Steve Rusch. His plane was shot down during the war and his family didn't know if he was a P.O.W (prisoner of war), dead or lost somewhere with a mistaken identity. It would be 30 years later, that a portion of his remains would be found - two teeth.
Two teeth solidified that he was gone and for the Rusch family, there seemed to finally be some closure. However, his daughter Rebecca was determined to create a sense of absolute closure by biking the trail to her father's crash site with the intention of landing there on the anniversary of his death.
The journey Rebecca would endure with the help of family friends and locals would change her forever.
Blood Road is a documented journey on film of hope and discovery between an American daughter and her trail riding companion Vietnamese competitive biking champion Huyen Nguyen. One watches intently as Rusch and Nguyen travel through the dense jungles of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
One of the richest moments of this film are when Nguyen helps Rusch understand the cultural context of her quest, the women forge a deep bond triggered by a shared experience of war and loss. Their bond and friendship is an amazing testament to how powerful women can be when working together for the greater good.
Haunting and terrifying as it was, watching the many holes of land created by mine explosions now filled with water or the millions of land mines that hundreds of children play close to every and are in danger of going off at a moments notice was heartbreaking. These land mines are bombs that have been embedded in the ground and not detonated since the Vietnam war,
Since Rebecca Busch's visit to Vietnam, she has created the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to help protect people in Laos from landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs) leftover from the Vietnam War. By removing these devices, communities can grow more food, make a better living, gain access to better health services, and know that their children can walk to school in safety.
Not until watching Blood Road did I realize the effects of war are felt for decades. If we could all just look to each other for our humanity in an attempt to end hatred and prejudice - war can be on the road to becoming a thing of the past. One can hope and pray for such a miracle, but will it really come to fruition? Only time will tell.
Blood Road produced by Red Bull Media House, will make its theatrical premiere on June 16th at Downtown Independent, followed by a run of national premieres and digital release on June 20th.
For more information on this most prolific, inspiring doc, feel free to log onto www.bloodroadfilm.com