How Lucky Can I Be — How Lucky Are We?

Battle of Hamo Village During the Tet Offensiv...

Image via Wikipedia

By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 – 2011)

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

I could tell you and I will … now.  Today I received an email from a friend at church.  Now you have to realize that some of this friend’s emails can make you roll on the floor …, but in agony, rather than glee — they truly are that bad.  But the one I received today was an absolute jewel which brought tears of appreciation to my eyes.  This email contained the text of a speech given by an American citizen who left Viet Nam when he was 13 years of age.  He came here with his family and the rest of his story is pure gold, so I’ll let him tell it, first in print and then via YouTube.

Bear with me, as I want to tell you of the phone call I made to his number where I left a message on the answering machine.  I identified myself and related that I write a blog and I would appreciate his giving me permission to publish his speech on gadabout-blogalot.  Not only did the generous Mr. Quang Nguyen return my call to grant my request, but he went further, and offered a YouTube presentation for my posting.  Please find below the text of the gentleman’s speech followed by a video of about ten-minutes duration:

35 years ago, if you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here speaking to a couple thousand patriots, in English, I’d laugh at you. Man, every morning I wake up thanking God for putting me and my family in the greatest country on earth.

I just want you all to know that the American dream does exist and I am living the American dream. I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation Vietnamese-American, but I’d rather speak to you as an American.

If you hadn’t noticed, I am not white and I feel pretty comfortable with my people.

I am a proud US citizen and here is my proof. It took me 8 years to get it, waiting in endless lines, but I got it and I am very proud of it.

I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968, I was six years old. Now you might want to question how a 6 year old boy could remember anything. Trust me, those images can never be erased. I can’t even imagine what it was like for young American soldiers, 10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf.

35 years ago, I left South Vietnam for political asylum. The war had ended. At the age of 13, I left with the understanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again. I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come to the US. Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California. It was a miracle from God.

If you haven’t heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth, I am telling you that right now. It was the freedom and the opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight. I also remember the barriers that I had to overcome every step of the way. My high school counselor told me that I cannot make it to college due to my poor communication skills. I proved him wrong. I finished college. You see, all you have to do is to give this little boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it. Well, I took the opportunity and here I am.

This person standing tonight in front of you could not exist under a socialist/communist environment. By the way, if you think socialism is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in to get you a one way ticket out of here. And if you didn’t know, the only difference between socialism and communism is an AK-47 aimed at your head. That was my experience.

In 1982, I stood with a thousand new immigrants, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to the National Anthem for the first time as an American. To this day, I can’t remember anything sweeter and more patriotic than that moment in my life.

Fast forwarding, somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21 year old kid, I was having a great time with my life. I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern California. In someway and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and why I was here.

One day I was at a gas station, I saw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island. I don’t know what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam. He smiled and said yes. I shook and held his hand. The grown man began to well up. I walked away as fast as I could and at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked. This was a profound moment in my life. I knew something had to change in my life. It was time for me to learn how to be a good citizen. It was time for me to give back.

You see, America is not a place on the map, it isn’t a physical location. It is an ideal, a concept. And if you are an American, you must understand the concept, you must buy into this concept, and most importantly, you have to fight and defend this concept. This is about Freedom and not free stuff. And that is why I am standing up here.

Brothers and sisters, to be a real American, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand it well. In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can’t speak the language of the country you live in. Take this document of 46 pages – last I looked on the internet, there wasn’t a Vietnamese translation of the US Constitution. It took me a long time to get to the point of being able to converse and until this day, I still struggle to come up with the right words. It’s not easy, but if it’s too easy, it’s not worth doing.

Before I knew this 46 page document, I learned of the 500,000 Americans who fought for this little boy. I learned of the 58,000 names scribed on the black wall at the Vietnam Memorial. You are my heroes. You are my founders.

At this time, I would like to ask all the Vietnam veterans to please stand. I thank you for my life. I thank you for your sacrifices, and I thank you for giving me the freedom and liberty I have today. I now ask all veterans, firefighters, and police officers, to please stand. On behalf of all first generation immigrants, I thank you for your services and may God bless you all.

Quang Nguyen

Creative Director/Founder

Caddis Advertising, LLC

To those of you who served in the Marine Corps, as I did, we all know that, “once a Marine, always a  Marine.”   My service was in peace-time from 1957 to 1961, but I can still be drawn to anger when I remember the way our Viet Nam vets were treated by some of our so-called citizens and politicians when the vets returned from their tours:  thus, the tears of appreciation for our honorable veterans.  I want to add my praise for all the service members who served in Viet Nam and all other wars and conflicts —  in the past and now.

My thanks to Mr. Quang Nguyen for his service to this country in sharing his experiences and telling of his good fortune in his poignant and obviously heart-felt words AND for his becoming a great citizen who did not forget to offer service in return for citizenship.   He continues to tour the country when he is able, where he further shares his experiences with school children, veterans organizations, political groups and other citizens.  If you get a chance to hear and meet him, it looks like you will be amply rewarded.

To Mr. Nguyen, I apologize for not posting any Vietnamese children,  “playing in the mud.” ;>) I looked, but could not find an image.

You may want to follow any links posted below.

Today Is Veterans Day In The USA

This article was first published on this blog on November 12, 2010
TODAY, NOVEMBER 12 2010, WILL BE CELEBRATED AS VETERANS DAY IN THE UNITED STATES. THE INFORMATION POSTED BELOW TELLS A TALE FROM A FAR DISTANT LAND.  A TALE ABOUT ONE PEOPLE’S LOVE AND DEDICATION TO PEOPLE WHO FOUND THEMSELVES IN A FOREIGN TOWN,  SAVING OR LIBERATING ITS PEOPLE.
THIS POSTING OF THE INFORMATION BELOW WILL HONOR OUR VETERANS, JUST AS THAT SMALL TOWN HAS HONORED THEM FOR AN UNBELIEVABLE NUMBER OF YEARS.  I HAVE NO IDEA WHO TO ATTRIBUTE ALL OF THE INFORMATIONAL TEXT AND THE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES FOUND BELOW.  FOR THAT I AM SORRY, BUT IF SOMEONE WILL LET ME KNOW WHO TO ACKNOWLEDGE FOR THIS GREAT INFORMATION, I WILL BE PLEASED TO ATTRIBUTE THEIR WORK.
Some of you will not be able to see the images below.  I apologize, but here is the link for the town web site, you’ll like it:
YOU’ BE ABLE TO ACCESS THE FESTIVITIES

Have you ever wondered if anyone in Europe remembers America’s sacrifice in World War II?  There is an answer in a small town in the Czech Republic, in the town called Pilsen (Plzen ).

Every 5 years, Pilsen conducts the Liberation Celebration of  the City of Pilsen in the Czech Republic .

May 6th, 2010, marked the 65th

anniversary of the liberation of Pilsen by General George Patton’s 3rd Army.Pilsen
is the town that every American should visit.  Why?  Because they love America and the American Soldier…

Even 65 years later… by the thousands,

The citizens of Pilsen came to say thank you.

Lining  the streets of Pilsen for miles -

From the large crowds,

to quiet reflective moments,

including this American family’s private time to honor and remember their American hero.


This is the crash site of Lt. Virgil P. Kirkham, the last recorded American USAAF pilot killed in
Europe during WWII. It was Lt. Kirkham’s 82nd mission and one that he volunteered to go on. At the time, this 20-year-old pilot’s P-47 Thunderbolt plane was shot down, a young 14-year-old Czech girl, Zdenka Sladkova, was so moved by his sacrifice she made a vow to care for him and his memory. For 65 straight years, Zdenka, now 79-years-old, took on the responsibility to care for Virgil’s crash site and memorial near her home.

On May 4th, she was recognized by the Mayor of Zdenka’s home town of Trhanova ,Czech Republic, for her sacrifice and extraordinary effort to honor this American hero.

Another chapter in this important story… the Czech people are teaching their children about America’s sacrifice for their freedom.

American Soldiers, young and old, are the ”Rock Stars” these children and their parents want autographs from.

Yes, Rock Stars! As they patiently waited for his autograph, the respect this little Czech boy and his father have for our troops serving today was heartwarming and inspirational.

The Brian LaViolette Foundation established The Scholarship of Honor in tribute to General George S. Patton and the American Soldier, past and present.

Each year, a different military hero will be honored in tribute to General Patton’s memory and their mission to liberate Europe.  This award will be presented to

a graduating senior who will be

entering the military or a form of community service such as fireman, policeman, teaching or nursing – – – a cause greater than self. The student will be from 1 of the 5 high schools in Pilsen, Czech Republic .

The first award will be presented in May 2011 in honor of Lt. Virgil Kirkham, that young 20-year-old P-47 pilot killed 65 years ago in the final days of WWII.

Presenting Virgil’s award will be someone who knows the true meaning of service and sacrifice… someone who looks a
lot like Virgil
. Marion Kirkham, Virgil’s brother, who himself served during WWII in the United States Army Air Corps!!!

In closing… Here is what the city of Pilsen thinks of General Patton’s grandson. George Patton Waters (another Rock Star!) we’re proud to say, serves on Brian’s Foundation board.

And it’s front page news over there. not buried in the middle of

the social section.

Brigadier General Miroslav Zizka – 1st Deputy Chief of Staff, Ministry of Defense, Czech Armed Forces.

Notice the flags? Share this email with your family and friends.

Every American should hear this story.

Important Military/Veteran Benefits Set To Expire On 10/21/10

POSTED AS A SERVICE TO OUR SERVICE MEMBERS, VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES BY GADABOUT-BLOGALOT

We received an email from United States Senator Tom Udall involving a military benefit that is on the verge of expiring  (no doubt others received the same email.)  Senator Udall asked for help in publicizing this benefit and we are pleased to do so.  We thank Senator Udall for pointing to the danger of some military members and veterans missing out on this benefit.

The information from Senator Udall’s office and blog is found below.  We ask that readers do what they can to get the word out on this important information.  Please feel free to blog  the information, Tweet the information or place it on Facebook.

Get Out the Word on Service Member Benefits

Dear Chuck,

I need your help to get out the word about important benefits for our veterans and service members.

In 2009, Congress made compensation available to service members of every military branch whose enlistment was involuntarily extended or retirement involuntarily suspended to support our ongoing war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Stop Loss” is a policy our military uses to quickly retain and generate forces in a time of need.

Members of our military whose service was involuntarily extended between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009 are entitled to this special, retroactive “Stop Loss” compensation. However, the deadline to claim this benefit is Oct. 21, so they must act quickly to apply.

‘Stop Loss’ Pay Deadline is Oct. 21

If you served in the military between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009 and your service was involuntarily extended, or your retirement was suspended due to “Stop Loss,” you are eligible for special compensation.

This is not a gimmick or a scam. It’s a real opportunity for our troops who have sacrificed so much. You can find out more about the program on the Defense Department’s website here.

Under the 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act, compensation is available to service members of every military branch who had their enlistment extended or retirement suspended due to “Stop Loss,” a policy utilized during major conflicts to quickly retain and generate forces to surge. Eligible Service members will receive $500 for every month they were on active duty after their discharge date.

58,000 claims have already been paid out, with the average benefit being $3,800, and the Department of Defense estimates that more than 145,000 personnel are eligible.

I encourage the servicemen and women whose service was extended by ‘Stop Loss’ to apply for retroactive pay benefits now. Our Active Duty, Reserve and Guard troops have shown great dedication by continuing to defend America during its time of need and they have earned this compensation.

If you think you might be eligible, you should contact your branch of the armed services here:

Army

Marine Corps

Navy

Air Force

And if you’re having trouble with an application, contact my office and a member of my staff will do their best to help.

Cheers!

Tom Udall signature

United Sates Senator

A Little “Faith” Is All We Need — Sometimes

Readers who have been around awhile will recall that I wrote about  “Faith” in the past.  A new story has surfaced and I’m just going to point you to the story and the accompanying videos.  I’m a sucker for this type of story.  Click on Faith

Shaggy Dogs Story

Fish and chips.
Image via Wikipedia

By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 – 2010)

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

I’ve always enjoyed shaggy dog stories.  I suppose it is because I love the sound of contemptible moans and seeing the backside of my victims as they scurry away before they are subjected to another of my tails, er tales.  Anyway, if you are unlucky enough to be around me for any length of time, you will be attacked by a shaggy dog story.  Lucky for you (?) here are two of my favorites.

FIRST POOCH:

Ghandi walked barefoot everywhere, to the point that his feet became quite thick and hard. Even when he wasn’t on a hunger strike, he did not eat much and became quite thin and frail. He also was a devout Hindu and quite a spiritual person. Furthermore, due to his diet, which consisted of mostly vegetables, he ended up with very bad breath. He became known as a super-calloused fragile mystic with extra halitosis.

SECOND PUPPY:

Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet of television fame, ran out of recipes and decided that he would travel to Europe to seek new ones.  His first stop was at a fish and chips place.  He found the fish and chips to be absolutely beyond compare, and he asked the owner (after introducing himself) if the owner would share the recipe with him. The owner apologized, stating that he would if he could, but the recipe belonged to the monks in a monastery just up the street.  He told Kerr that the monks were sure to give Kerr the recipes if Kerr gave them an endorsement on his television show. Kerr paid hill ticket, left a tip and departed for the monastery.

Arriving at the monastery, Kerr saw that the massive wooden door to the fortress-like facility had a huge wrought iron knocker.  No sooner had he knocked on the door, than the door screeched loudly open, and standing before Kerr was a diminutive man in a brown habit. Kerr feeling confident, said, “You are the fish friar.” “Absolutely not,” replied the small man, “I am the chip monk!”

NOW FOR THE REAL SHAGGY DOGS:

This story comes from CBS Television and tells of a soldier and his dogs in Afghanistan. The dogs looked as though they were mixed with all the dogs in the village in which they were found by the soldier. Nonetheless, they were nourished and loved and apparently from events which were yet to transpire, returned the love with licks and heroism.

I’ll have CBS finish the story:

Shaggy Dog Stories

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Saved Memories About Memorial Day For Memorial Day 2010

POSTED AS A COMMUNITY SERVICE BY GADABOUT-BLOGALOT

THE FOLLOWING WAS OFFERED AS A PART OF VALLEY VIEW CHRISTIAN CHURCH’S WEEKLY UPDATE.  IT WAS SENT TO THE CONGREGATION ON MAY 28, 2010 BY THE PASTOR, BRANDON SHAFFER

A Note From Brandon

Memorial Day, perhaps more than any other holiday, was born of human necessity. Deep inside all of us lies a fundamental desire to make sense of life and our place in it and the world. What we have been given, what we will do with it and what we will pass to the next generation is all part of an unfolding history, a continuum that links one soul to another. Abraham Lincoln pondered these thoughts in the late fall of 1863. His darkest fear was that he might well be the last president of the United States, a nation embroiled in the self-destruction of what he described as “a great civil war..testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.” He began his remarks with those words as he stood on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19th of that year. The minute’s speech that became known as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address turned into what might be called the first observance of Memorial Day. Lincoln’s purpose that day was to dedicate a portion of the battlefield as a cemetery for the thousands of men, both living and dead, who consecrated that soil in the sacrifice of battle. Said Abraham Lincoln: “That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…” The next year, a pleasant Sunday in October of 1864 found a teenage girl, Emma Hunter, gathering flowers in a Boalsburg, Pennsylvania cemetery to place on the grave of her father. He was a surgeon who had died in service to the Union Army in that great Civil War. Nearby, Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer was strewing flowers upon the grave of her son Amos, a private who had fallen on the last day of the battle of Gettysburg. Emma respectfully took a few of her flowers and put them on the grave of Amos. Mrs. Meyer, in turn, laid some of her freshly cut blooms on the grave of Dr. Hunter. Both women felt a lightening of their burdens by this act of honoring each other’s loss, and agreed to meet again the next year. This time they agreed they would also visit the graves of those who had no one left to honor them. Both Emma Hunter and Elizabeth Meyer returned to the cemetery in Boalsburg on the day they had agreed, Independence Day, July 4, 1865. This time, though, they found themselves joined by nearly all the residents of the town. Dr. George Hall, a clergyman, offered a sermon, and the community joined in decorating every grave in the cemetery with flowers and flags. The custom became an annual event at Boalsburg, and it wasn’t long before neighboring communities established their own “Decoration Day” each spring. About that same time in 1865, a druggist in Waterloo, New York, Henry C. Welles, began promoting the idea of decorating the graves of Civil War veterans. He gained the support of the Seneca County Clerk, General John B. Murray, and they formed a committee to make wreaths, crosses and bouquets for each veteran’s grave. On May 5, 1866, war veterans marching to martial music led processions to each of three cemeteries, where the graves were decorated and speeches were made by General Murray and local clergymen. The village itself was also decorated with flags at half-mast, evergreen boughs and mourning black streamers. Also, as the Civil War was coming to a close in the spring of 1865, Women’s Auxiliaries of the North and South moved from providing relief to the families and soldiers on their own sides to joining in efforts to preserve and decorate the graves of both sides. A woman of French extraction and leader of the Virginia women’s movement, Cassandra Oliver Moncure, took responsibility of coordinating the activities of several groups into a combined ceremony on May 30. It is said that she picked that day because it corresponded to the Day of Ashes in France, a solemn day that commemorates the return of the remains of Napoleon Bonaparte to France from St. Helena. In 1868, General John A. Logan, first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic issued a General Order establishing May 30 as an official memorial day to pay respect to all those who had died, in war or peace. His order was that the men in his command should spend a portion of that day policing the gravesites, decorating them and supporting whatever ceremonies they could. He hoped that this would spark enough interest to make Memorial Day a permanent national observance. In the intervening decades, Memorial Day has been observed every year, though the day was re-established from May 30 to the last Monday in May. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson also sanctioned Waterloo, New York as the “official” birthplace of Memorial Day because of the extensive ceremonies established there in 1866. Perhaps General Logan was simply making official what the nation yearned for and spontaneously began to form after the near total destruction of the Civil War. It is that sharing of loss, honoring the sacrifices of those who made possible the lives we enjoy today, and family connections across the generations that keep Memorial Day in our hearts…and always will. SOURCE: “John Shepler’s Writing in a Positive Light.”

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The Virtual Wall

By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 – 2010)

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

I had not heard of  The Virtual Wall® until yesterday, when a Marine veteran

Faces Of Freedom

friend sent me the link, http://www.virtualwall.org/ to the website.  I have visited The Wall in our nation’s capitol and can only say that I had to stop several times as I walked the length of the The Wall to wipe the tears away and offer my thanks through silent tribute for the sacrifices given by those thousands of heroes represented there.

Now, as I will tour The Virtual Wall®, I am sure I will repeat the tears and the tribute.  I believe the person that started this beautiful and honorable site somehow knew that it would develop into memorials for individuals which would be treasured by the families, loved ones and dear friends of those who gave everything in a far distant land.

My purpose in posting this short article is to publicize the site in the hope that many more folks with blogs and websites will see fit to do the same.  Much of what I might say, were I more elegant in style and eloquent of word, has already been said in outpourings of love and appreciation.  I am taking the liberty of copying and posting the links to such information, along with links to other parts of the website, which will prove valuable to visitors to The Virtual Wall®.  Please check below for links of interest:

Please follow the links and any others which may be placed on the above pages as they are visited.

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Agent Orange Now Linked To New Diseases?

Vietnam. Defoliation Mission.
Image via Wikipedia

By Bob Steiner

Secretary of Veteran’s affairs, Eric Shinseki,  recently announced that he has decided  to establish  a service-connection for Vietnam veterans who have contracted B cell leukemia, such as hairy cell leukemia; Parkinson’s disease; and ischerr heart disease. This action was based upon an independent study by the Institute of Medicine showing an association with exposure to Agent OrangeVietnam Veterans with these diseases may be eligible for disability compensation and health care benefits.

Agent Orange is the name given to a type of herbicide used in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971.  Using Air Force cargo airplanes, the U.S. military  sprayed millions of gallons of the chemical  to remove foliage and leaves from trees that provided cover to enemy forces.  During the course of combat operations, many Vietnam era veterans were exposed to the herbicide.

The Veteran’s secretary is one of the few Obama appointees who actually served in the military. Attaining the rank of of four star general,  he served under the Bush administration as the Army Chief of Staff until he criticized President Bush’s conduct of the war in Afghanistan. He retired  from active duty last year. He was awarded two purple hearts for wounds received during his service in Vietnam.

If you are a Vietnam veteran, or if you know a Vietnam veteran who might have been exposed to Agent Orange and is suffering from one of the diseases listed, you may  wish to contact the regional Veteran’s Administration office at 500 Gold Avenue Southwest in Albuquerque.  For general information on claims and benefits you can also call 800-442-4551

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More For Veterans In New Mexico

Officially, Veterans Day was last week, but in my mind, every day should be a day for veterans. With that in mind, I am posting links to various benefits New Mexico veterans can seek.

Here’s the home page for New Mexico Department Of Veterans Services

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