This being the 45th anniversary of the fall of Vietnam, many people have noted on social media that there is lack of awareness for the sacrifices that US veterans have made during the Vietnam war. This meme touched soft spot and I felt compelled to share my story.
I would like to first share a question that was asked of me about a year ago, “What do you think about the US involvement in the Vietnam War.”
My first question was, “Are you asking me as an American or as a Vietnamese refugee?”
I don’t think my friend ever thought that there could be two sides to this questions. But I think for people like myself, if we were thoughtful there would always be two answers. I could never disown my race nor my heritage, I was born that way. But I could never deny the country of which I have pledged my allegiance as I am a citizen.
So to him I answered the following:
As a US citizen, I have a hard time with sending our young men and women into harm’s way to assert what we (Americans) believe is right.
As a Vietnamese person I am grateful for the US involvement. Had it not for this participation, I would not be writing this today. More than likely, I would have already lost my life at 5 years old.
I remember when I met the first Vietnam Vet in 1998. His name is Terry Barnes. After much conversation, we discovered that there was a very high probability that he was directly involved in our (my family and I) escape from the conflict. Terry was a pilot during the air evacuation of Vietnamese citizens; we were one of those people. To Terry I simply said the words, “Thank you”. I was the first person he had ever met since 1975 whom he had a direct impact. And in silence we held each other and became friends. We have since lost touch but I will never forget him nor his twin brother.
So on this 45th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, I would say this, Thank you for giving us life. Know that I will not squander what I have and all of the privileges that comes with being a US citizen.
To those who choose to judge us Brown people, think again, I am as much if not more of an AMERICAN than many who believe that they are protecting this country from foreigners.
When you say "go back to your country" YOU have dishonored all of the sacrifices veterans have made for me and countless other people.