Sunday, March 21, 2010

Raising the Vietnamese Flag

The Summer of 1972,the war became very intense. The communists (viet cong) had taken over the city of Bong Son. Many people had to move, including most of my beloved Thac Da villagers. At this time my family had already moved to Qui Nhon city, but because of school exam, my brother Khoa stayed behind until the evacuation. This caused a lot of worry for my parents. Many years later I met Phung, one of my friends from the village. She told me that many people had to escape Bong Son by foot, and it took them many days. When they arrived in Qui Nhon, they were tired,hungry and their feet were all cracked, bleeding and had swelled up.

Bong Son was not occupied by the communists long. After about four months, our brave South Vietnamese soldiers fought a heroic battle and won back Bong Son. The following day, my father went to Bong Son with many soldiers to place our South Vietnamese Flag on top of the Bong Son city hall building. My father took my brother Khoa with him on this trip. I did not know the purpose for Khoa to go along until I was much older. My father wanted Khoa to see, experience and be a part of what our young soldiers were doing. Maybe one day Khoa would be honored to serve our country just like them.

The day my father left for this event, I saw the happiness, the excitement and pride on his face, but on my mother's face I saw sadness and anticipation that my father's jeep would be victim of an ambush on the road. I did not understand much of their emotions at the time. I have my own children and every day see them drive off to school, participate in the world, away from my protecting arms. I now understand what my parents went through, especially my mom and all the moms who had children go to war to protect what we call freedom.

By Thai Le


  1. Thai Le, Thank you for sharing this vignette. I do look forward to reading your memoir. What you write here is so true and also so poignant. As an adult now myself, scarcely a day goes by that I don't come to understand something about my parents (their thinking, emotions, concerns, hopes, etc.) that I observed many years ago but couldn't fully appreciate. We have to walk in their shoes...or at least our versions of their shoes.

    My father used to say, "Times change but people don't." He was right. The circumstances are different for you and for me from those of our parents. But some feelings are universal.

    Good luck with this project.

  2. Kendra- You are so right about how relevant and present our parents are in our lives as we grow older. I find myself saying expressions/lessons my parents taught me and explaining how they were in their day up in New England that is so different from where I live now. When our parents are gone, stories like this, that are cherished memories, particularly the ones we reminisce about with close relatives who share our love for a lost parent, help us reflect in a bittersweet moment so we feel close to the one we miss.

    Amanda Griffith