Folk singer and activist Joan Baez recently returned to Vietnam to visit the underground bunker that she said saved her life 40 years ago during the 1972 Christmas bombings in Hanoi.
Baez traveled to North Vietnam in 1972 as part of a peace delegation, but was forced to take cover in a bunker underneath her government-run hotel as American B-52s rained bombs on the area for 11 days straight.
"That was my first experience in dealing with my own mortality, which I thought was a terrible cosmic arrangement," Baez told The Associated Press. "It is OK for everyone else to die, but surely there was another plan for me?"
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During her return to the Vietnamese capital last week, Baez stayed in the same hotel, The Metropole Hanoi, that she stayed in all those years ago. The building was renovated in 2011, and the bunker was unearthed.
When Baez first entered the bunker again, she reportedly put her hand to the cement wall, closed her eyes, and sang out the African-American spiritual "Oh Freedom," according to the AP.
"I felt this huge warmth," she said. "It was gratitude. I thought I would feel all these wretched things about a bunker but it was love that it took care of me."
When Baez returned from Vietnam in 1973, she released an experimental album, "Where Are You Now, My Son?" which featured spoken-word tapes and recordings taken from the bunker, the hotel, and the sounds of Hanoi, including air-raid sirens and bombs dropping.
Baez recently contacted the hotel after she learned the bunker had been unearthed and gave her friends copies of the 1973 album with instructions to pass them along to Metropole Hanoi staffers. In return, the hotel manager extended an invitation for Baez to return.
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"I don’t believe in coincidences," Baez told the AP. "Something in me was ready to come back and apparently hadn’t been up until now."
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