Vietnamese community in DFW marks a sad day in history — the fall of Saigon

April 30 marked what’s known as the Fall of Saigon. That’s the day the capital of South Vietnam fell to the communist regime of North Vietnam in 1975.

By Stella M. Chávez, Bret Jaspers, KERA NewsMay 1, 2023 9:45 am, , , ,

From KERA News:

The North Texas Vietnamese community has been commemorating that day for more than four decades.

Women in matching long, white dresses stood in the sunlight outside the Vietnamese Community Center in Garland on Sunday. Some held the American flag, others the former flag of the Republic of Vietnam, yellow with red stripes.

Many men were dressed in military garb. Some also held flags, while others carried rifles.

Bret Jaspers / KERA

Attendees flew a flag representing the defeated South Vietnamese government during the ceremony, along with American and Texan flags.

“Please remember that we are American, but we are also of Vietnamese heritage,” Dee Doai said to a large crowd. Doai is president of the Vietnamese American Community of Greater Dallas.

“Our presence in the United States and anywhere in the world but Vietnam is the result of the sacrifices of our parents and our grandparents after the fall of Saigon,” she said.

Doai was born in Vietnam after the war, in 1979. Like thousands of other refugees, her father fled the country by boat and sponsored her and her mother to come to the U.S. in 1991.

“They risked their lives on small boats in the ocean, waded through the jungles,” she said. “They gave up their freedom in the re-education camps so that we can enjoy this freedom, this democracy, and human rights — as some of us, including myself, sometimes take for granted.”

Bret Jaspers / KERA

Dee Doai, president of the Vietnamese American Community of Greater Dallas, is interviewed ahead of the ceremony.

84-year-old Richard Nguyen was working in the presidential bureau in Saigon when the South Vietnamese military surrendered to the North. He was arrested and put in what was known as a re-education camp — essentially a prison camp operated by the Communist government.

Nguyen said everyone should know what happened during and after the war.

“It is very, very important,” he told KERA. “Not for me but for the generation to come, to let them know how it happened and why we are here.”

Helping the Vietnamese community is what drives Cindy Nguyen (no relation to Richard), who also came as a refugee. She’s often at the community center signing up people for Medicare and food assistance and translating information for them.

“We are lucky,” she said. “We have a community that can help a lot of Vietnamese people to get together and to learn.”

A few minutes later, she rushed into another room filled with lunch sacks, again busy helping.

Doai said she brings her three kids here each year to learn about the history of Vietnam. She shares a hope that others stated as well – that the children continue this tradition, long after she is gone.

“Access to information is a lot greater now, today, than it used to be,” she said.

Doai encourages people “just try to understand both sides of the story and try to figure out for yourself what is right and wrong.”

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