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.
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.
- Mesmerized in Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and Tam Coc – Hanoi, Vietnam (travelpod.com)
- Veterans talk: Why I joined the service – Salina.com (news.google.com)