Revisiting Vietnam American RadioWorks
  Vietnam Scrapbook

Jennifer B Do
Woodbury , Mn, USA

How does the war affect my life? Where am I going to start?
The war ended when I was 4 years old. I remember my family panicking into making life jacket. I remember being jerked out of sleep very early one morning to catch the last bus to go to Saigon because the North's army was coming and the South's army was going to close the road .I remember my family and I standing on the bank of the Saigon river, pleading at soldiers pointing guns at us so that they might let us board the boat. I remember the night we had to spend in the hallway of the "Grand" (if I remember the name right) hospital, and I as a 4 years old girl, knew nothing of the real turmoil that was going on but a palpable fear in the adults.
I remember my dad being taken away for 10 years of 're-education' because he was a school principle in a very small town of BaoLoc and if that is not the reason, I do know another one.
I remember seeing my dad walking out of the 're-education' camp to see us escorted by two gun-bearing soldiers. I remember being terrified and angry and at the same time feeling confused and shamefully helpless for seeing my father being so disgraced. I did not meet my father for 12 years until he was release from the camp. I do not even know what it would have been like growing up having a father. I remember having a teacher asking about my family's past and I felt compelled to lie since at the time, everyone could have been an informant for the local government. Luckily, the teacher understood and told me that he might had been a teacher at my father's school and he was only trying to find out. It turned out that he really was.
My husband never knew his father who was in the army and simply did not come home one day after a mission and no one ever know what happened.
My family and I came to the US in Oct 1989 each of us with a bag of clothing and a $800 airfare debt. All five of us shared a one-bedroom trailer with our grandparents for 6 month until my mother had enough conversational English to get a job. I had my first job at Popeye’s Fried Chicken the first summer after we came. One day, a customer told me that I did not belong here since I could not talk to him. I remember crying so much that the supervisor had to let me go on break until I calmed down. I was only 18 and still had culture shock. I went to Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, VA and was fortunate enough to have a wonderful and absolutely kind ESL teacher who had given me so much help, understanding and confidence.
I now have a career and a family of my own. Sometime I do wonder, however, what my life would have been like if there never was the war.
Last year, when one of our bomb hit an appartment complex (or was it a hospital) in Yugoslavia and when I heard our Secretary of State said that in a war, some life could be sacrified, I could not help but had images of thousands of frightened people running around on the street of a falling city, of thousands of children who never know their fathers, of wives of soldiers crying in front of a row of coffins flashing through my mind. Is it a justifiable sacrifice? I do agree that there are wars we are forced to fight, but is there any life that can be deem sacrifice-able?

Thanks alot for letting me rambling on. Thanks a lot for having this discussion.


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