April 30, 2018

From one of our members, Kavi Vu:

Friends have asked me why the Vietnamese flag I celebrate is not the one hanging at the Olympics or the one they find in their emoji database. “Our flag was changed after the war,” is the best answer I can give. There’s a sweet spot to explaining these kinds of things because people don’t want a story; they like simple answers they can wrap their heads around. You give too much and you turn them away but give too little and you turned away from yourself and your own feelings.

On April 30, 1975, the South Vietnamese army surrendered and our country was overtaken by communists. My family escaped in 1988 and it feels like we never looked back. I cannot remember ever having an open conversation about the war and my parents have never shared with me their perspective or the impact it had on them. I had a pretty typical American childhood in Florida - church camp, Pokémon, biking to and from mom’s nail shop. What I knew about the war, I learned in textbooks.
These days, I have taken more time to read about and reflect on the global and personal impact of the Vietnam War. I am starting to understand why my parents spoke so little about the event that affected us so much. When I was 15, after hearing an older Vietnamese auntie tell her story of coming to the US on a boat, the same thing my sisters and aunts and uncles did, I complained to her that I wish my family spoke more about our journey. She asked me to recall a time when I lost something and it hurt me so much that I didn’t want to talk about it. I remembered losing our very first dog, Taco, and how i cried in the shower for months. She said, “and just like that, you lost a whole lifetime with your dog and felt so much pain that you just had to keep moving forward, right?” Right, and losing your country must feel like losing many, many lifetimes and not just to God, but to men.