African American soldiers in the Vietnam War
African American Soldiers in the Vietnam War
Most people experience war and violence at different times of their lives. Violence has many disadvantages. It leaves people homeless, some people lose their friends and families, people also lose their wealth. More often than not, there are survivors of most wars that live to tell the story. The story is sometimes told from their physical appearance or the physical harm they went through. They are also left traumatized by the wars. Some individuals have to go through counseling to help them move on with their lives. However, the things they witness never leave their minds. They sometimes describe the occurrences as though they are from the previous day (Duke and Tony, 26).
To understand what happened in Vietnam, it is important to get information from a survivor. Looking at Annthy Thao Nguyen, who was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1956, we see the pain and suffering caused by the war. Annthy had a normal childhood being the seventh born in a family of eleven children. She received an education just like any other child. Things were normal until when she was in college, in her second year, when Vietnam fell apart. When the war broke, her parents and siblings fled to a different country leaving her behind. They never intended to leave her, but they thought she was dead and, therefore, decided to flee to safety (Nguyen).
A family is a support that human beings want to have at all times. However, when one is alone, they feel like life has lost meaning and sense. One lacks motivation in life and gets the urge to give up in life. Annthy, therefore, lived in Vietnam with no family. Life in Vietnam was ugly. There was war day in day out. She became used to screams and cries. In such times, one can’t live in the place where they called home. You keep moving hoping to find a better place. Food, clean water and quality health services also became difficult to find.
Once she got a chance to flee Vietnam, she fled to California, four years later. They used a boat to get to California and it was a journey took them long. Again, once in California, life was not easy. They were not very welcome there. They had restrictions. They, however, got sufficient food and water to drink. It took her and her fellow refugees time to adjust to the new life and country. They eventually made it through. She managed to complete her degree in California. As she narrates her story, she explains how hard it is to forget the pain and suffering she and her fellow refugees had to go through in their country and California (Nguyen).
Annthy was not the only one with a story of the suffering. Others like Jack Khu Dang Toan also suffered as a refugee, lost their loved ones but eventually made through it all. Jack’s family arrived in Hong Kong refugee camp also through a boat (Toan). They were lucky to get sponsors who were in search of a Chinese-Vietnamese family to sponsor. He was lucky to complete school and get a nice job. He later got married and started a family.
Most of these refugees shared similar problems. It was difficult to leave Vietnam at the time of the war. Most people travelled using boats to different refugee camps (“Boat a Reminder of Peril Vietnamese Refugees Faced”). However, before managing to get to safety so as to board the boat, it was quite difficult. They travelled in large groups but unfortunately, not all people made it to safety. Some people were killed, others starved to death and there were also those who fell ill and died due to lack of medication. Those who survived were however traumatized by the death of their friends and those who were with them.
On being lucky to get a boat to board, there were more challenges ahead. The refugees did not know if they had left their families behind or whether their families had already died in the war. The refugees were also unsure of what to expect in the countries they fled to. They did not know if they would feel welcome there or their hosts would again turn against them. At this point, most of the refugees had already lost hope in life. They had lost the dream of attaining certain education levels and careers. All they now wanted was just to be in a safe place, reunite with their families or have the assurance that they were safe and also have enough food and clean water as well as the availability of quality health services for themselves.
Once in the host country, the refugees were not always welcomed right. Though in a secure environment, the refugees sometimes lacked food and water. The refugees were also many at the time and it was, therefore, difficult to get a sponsor. Sometimes the refugees had to wait too long to get a sponsor. However, most of them were lucky to be united with their families. Others were lucky to get sponsors who helped them complete their studies. Most of them managed to complete school and get jobs. Some of the refugees went back to Vietnam but others never went back to their country due to fear of a reoccurrence of such a war. Some countries took long to take completely care of the Vietnamese refugees in their countries (Lau, 8).
War in a country has much effect on an individual’s life. Sometimes the harm is physical, such that some people are left disabled. Other times there is no physical harm, but most victims are left psychologically and emotionally tortured. Losing family, watching people die, and loss of freedom in one’s country among others is much suffering. Knowing peace all your life and the ending up a refugee in a different country is much to take in all at once. However, most of Vietnam’s refugees were lucky to survive to tell the story; to preach peace and sensitize people on handling issues in ways that don’t involve war and violence. It is a lesson learned and that will be passed on for many generations.
“Boat a Reminder of Peril Vietnamese Refugees Faced.” The Columbus Dispatch 26 May 2007. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
Duke, Karen, and Tony Marshall. Vietnamese Refugees since 1982. London: HMSO, 1995. Print.
Lau, Jenni Meili. “Vietnamese Refugee Problem Drags On: Hong Kong Struggles to Clear Camps.” The Washington Times 8 Mar. 1996. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
Nguyen, Annthy Thao. “Oral History of Annthy Thao Nguyen.” (2015).
Toan, Jack. “Oral History of Jack Toan.” (2012).