This Memorial Day, we honor all of the veterans who have passed while serving our country. Thank you for your service and sacrifice to protect our community. It is also imperative to recognize the sacrifice and trauma many have faced as a result of war.
This is the story of my father and family, about what they sacrificed as a result of war. My father Winston fought in the war in Vietnam. He was enlisted with the US 5th division Red Diamond 1st 11th infantry. He served in Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) as the liaison and interpreter for the division. During his time in the war, he was shot in his back; the doctors pronounced my father dead. My mother of six children was told that she had to figure out life without my father. Luckily, my father survived from his gunshot wound.
The war resulted in parents and children torn apart, massive deaths, demolished homes, demolished businesses and broken livelihood. After being wounded, Winston became a part of the MacV USAID Military to focus on redevelopment after the war. He was offered to leave Vietnam with his family, however, Winston chose to stay to help rebuild his community and country. He opened an orphanage serving several hundred children who were displaced and without living parents. He eventually adopted my brother anh Binh from the orphanage. My family fled to America. The road to America was filled with fear, anguish and defeat. My father was allowed to only take one child with him, my eldest brother Quoc. While my mother and three year old brother Tai tried to flee the country and were caught and thrown in prison. While in prison, my mother remembered signs in the prison taunting prisoners. There was a sign “offering” food that also said if you lie, you will be beaten. My sister Thuy stayed in a refugee camp by herself at age seven in Singapore. Eventually, my entire family were reunited in Saint Paul, MN.
There are many stories like mine that continue to happen in our community. As a second generation, daughter of Vietnamese refugees, I still suffer from the impacts of war. There are many communities facing hardship and has forced families to move to Minnesota. We must recognize the damage and trauma that impacts soldiers, veterans and war-torn communities. As Minnesotans and Ramsey County residents, we must recognize the suffering living veterans are facing. Many veterans are homeless, unable to find jobs and suffer with major mental health and physical health. We must also open our arms and welcome individuals and families who have experienced the consequences of war.
Today, as we honor the veterans who have sacrificed their life, think about the ways in which we can avoid going into war. The consequences of initiating wars are devastating and can impact individuals and families for generations.