Charlottesville, VA, USA
Dear NPR,I was in the 8th grade in April, 1975 when South Vietnam fell. When Danang fell, I was on a spring break trip to Washington, D.C. with my family. I remember watching with horror as people fell out of the wheel wells of planes taking off, desperate to get out of the country any way they could. I wasn't well informed about the war, my father was too old for the draft, and other than hearing the nightly body count announced by Walter Cronkite each evening, I didn't pay much attention to Vietnam. But that changed when I watched Danang fall, and a few weeks later, Saigon. I couldn't understand what lead to such desperation and terror. Since that time, I have always had a fastination with Vietnam. I have always wanted to go to Vietnam and try to understand what happen there, to our people and to the Vietnamese. In November, 1999, I finally went to Vietnam but for reasons that I couldn't have imagined in 1975. I went to Vietnam for a month to adopt my daughter. I had the opportunity to get to know some wonderful Vietnamese people who make it their life's work to help Vietnamese orphans find suitable homes. Some of these people had been involved in the war and were very hesitant to discuss it, beyond saying that they don't look back and they don't hold a grudge. "If we resented everyone we've fought in the last 2000 years, we'd spend all our time being angry." I admired the Vietnamese people I met and marveled at their work ethic, their quiet dignity in the face of terrible poverty, and their ability to perservere. I found myself more than once wondering how in the world we could have seen these people and thought we could defeat them! I am proud that my daughter will be a Vietnamese-American, and proud that she comes from a country with such a rich and distinguished cuture. The Vietnamese love their children and revere the elderly. We could learn a lot from them. I doubt that I would have the wonderful daughter I have had it not been for the war. So in a strange way, I think the Vietnam war gave me something quite priceless, my amazing daughter. It is odd how something so precious could come from such a terrible time in our history.