Mong rằng hải ngoại có nhiều hơn nữa, những người như Andrew Nguyễn. Nhờ “For at least 3 million times, my parents have reminded me time and again of my heritage” mà cậu con một này như thế này đây.
Hoàng Lan Chi
The Life of a Tree
My name is Andrew Nguyen Vo. I’m a 16-year-old American high school student born in Canada whose parents originated from Vietnam. Yet, despite that, the thought of an identity crisis never crossed my mind. For at least 3 million times, my parents have reminded me time and again of my heritage. They tell me stories of both the peacetimes and the wartimes to ensure their stories are not forgotten. As an only child, my parents have done everything they can to instill in me the language, the culture, and the resolve of my ancestral homeland.
Out of all their stories, the ones most impactful are those of the Vietnam War. Accounts of fear, bloodshed, suffering, and perseverance are the most prominent themes with the northern Vietcong being the primary antagonists. See, in our history books nowadays, the story ends with Nixon’s ceasefire and the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. The U.S. withdraws its troops from Vietnam, and America lets out a weary sigh of relief. A couple more years of fighting take place, and the war finally concludes with the fall of Saigon. It’s all written out plainly and conclusively on paper, but peace just doesn’t always mean what it does in our storybook fairytales.
July 16, 2014, was the day that truly opened my eyes to this reality for the first time. Throughout my childhood, I had always known the outcome of the Vietnam War: the defeat of democracy, the establishment of communism, and the oppression of the people. Having never witnessed any of these, they were all nothing but baseless words to me. During the annual Vietnam Advocacy Day, supporters from across the United States agglomerated in our nation’s capital to speak to their respective congressmen about human rights issues in Vietnam. I had the privilege of attending this event with local Vietnamese activists, elders, and my church’s own priest, Fr. Anthony Ngo.
Having brought me along as a communication aid to the congressmen, I was sent documents and photographs pertaining to Vietnam’s religious in-toleration that absolutely astounded me. What was so special about these documents is that they were so different from standard textbook information. Instead, these were real accounts from actual Vietnamese countrymen in the motherland herself. Depictions of police brutality, imprisonment of religious leaders, destruction of religious monuments, and illegal confiscation of religious property were all done in the name of the victims’ faith. This was all information that was unknown to the U.S. government itself until that day on Capitol Hill. Studying these documents and speaking to the congressmen made me realize that the Vietnam War had never truly ended, but had only taken on a different form.
But the thought of a still ongoing war gave me a haunting realization. Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, nearly 40 years have passed. Our country’s veterans and survivors are gradually being lost, and Vietnam is running low on soldiers who can keep fighting this war of injustice. The triumph of democracy in Vietnam is within our grasp, but it is slipping away before our eyes. As the next generation of Vietnamese, the duty lies with us to replace the ranks of those who have fallen to ensure that the voice of our people remains loud and unwavering. No matter how far or where the branches of our Vietnamese family extend, if we cannot protect our roots then our tree will eventually die – and with it, who we are. That is why we, as the future of Vietnam, cannot turn a blind eye to the crime of oppression on our people until communism is fallen, democracy is established, and justice is granted to our native countrymen.