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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Posts: 25
(6/11/01 11:18:00 am)
| Del All Memories of a Vietnamese Sailor #6
The following posts will give you a thumbnail of Mr. Toi's life in Vietnam, growing up in a war-torn country right up through his personal participation in the war....../larry/
I've been off the LIST for a short while, I was
working my rear end off and at the sametime typing a
short live story about myself. Through many lively
and courageous postings of many members, I muster my
courage to swallow my pride, if you will, my shyness,
and perhaps my shame to open myself up to write it so,
please bear with me. Here is part one.

Part 1: First of all I'd like to express my
appreciation to my parents for bringing me to this
world, teaching me to be a good citizen, a good
person, a good son, brother, husband, father, and
friend. I also like to thank all of my
brothers/sisters on the SWIFT LIST because without
reading their posts to learn how and what they feel
inside about the Countries, the war, and the pain that
we all endure, I would not have the courage to write
these notes. Putting my frustration, pain, anger
(rightly or wrongly), and distrust down in writing is
very painful for me, for it brings back a lot of
memories that I, either too proud or to ashamed, to
reduce them in writing or to discuss it with others.

I was a citizen of South Vietnam until 1975, and I
have been a citizen of this great country (US) for
more than 20 years. I love both of "my" countries. I
do have disagreements with my current country, but for
better or worse, it is my country, now. One of the
Swift brothers wrote that the best way to register
one's disagreement is to go to the voting booth. I
agree wholeheartedly with a caveat: It only works in
this great country but not in Vietnam. Unless and
until the current regime in Vietnam becomes completely
democratic will there be any validation to any vote
that is cast.

I strongly disagree, even disgust, with what the
communist has done to Vietnam during the last 26
years. They brought the country, at one point, to the
level of "sub-third-world" status. Untold thousands
of Vietnamese perished on the South China Sea because
of what? if not to escape the "heaven" that the
communist promises. Those deaths, in my opinion, are
the ultimate testament of communist heaven. But what
can I do beside crying, yelling, and praying. Before
1975 I at least had my 81MM, double 50, M79, M60, and
M16 to register my disagreement to them.

On a personal note, I dislike them intensely but then
the other side of me would tell me that if I take any
action, political or other wise, against them, my
family in Vietnam will be receiving their wrath and I
will not be allowed to come back to see my family
forever. I feel the communist Vietnam is holding me
hostage in this sense.

Here is part 2:

Part 2: I was born in Saigon, South Vietnam in
February 1951. My family was, and still is, very
poor; my father was a chauffer for a Director of a
French rubber company that had rubber plantations in
Binh Long, Phuoc Long, Lai Khe, and Long Thanh. My
mother was a housewife. I had 15 brothers and
sisters. The first eight never made it after the
first few months after birth; the last eight survived.
Feeding the family was our everyday main concern for
my father earned very little monies working as a
chauffer. Growing up was a constant struggle and
fight for survival. I came home from school everyday
and there were always several bowls of half-eaten food
leftover from my sisters and brothers; I'd mix them
together and . the mixture became my main course. My
parents are from North Vietnam. They migrated south
in the early 1930's so they really did not have any
experience with communism.

My first taste of the war was during my tender age at
6 or 7 years old. I remember vividly that it was the
anniversary of my grandfather's death (in our custom we
pray and offer food to the deceased on every
anniversary), I heard explosions and saw smoke
pillowing on the other side of Saigon River. It was
president Ngo Dinh Diem's attempt consolidate power by
putting down the Binh Xuyen and Bay Vien factions.
The commander of that battle was Big Minh (I later
learned). In my little mind I said: Oh, that is war.
War was, to me at that time, just pillowing smokes
and explosions from far away. I saw and felt the
anxiety on my parents, uncles, and aunt faces but I
had no idea why.

My second taste of the war was during my teenager
time. I was 13-14 years old and I had a girlfriend
(if one wish to call "girlfriend" at 12-13 year of
age) who lived in Binh Long plantation so I went there
often to visit. On one evening my friend and I were
sitting on top of a hill in Binh Long and we looked at
the sunset (toward Phuoc Long). Suddenly we felt the
vibration underneath, so we looked around and up. We
saw nothing. We then looked up and further toward
Phuoc Long province and we saw two T-28 (bombers?)
swooping up and down; after each swoop down we could
faintly hear the explosion and felt the vibration. I
knew then that war did come to my homeland, that those
two bombers were dropping bombs on Viet Cong. That
picture remains with me to this date. I felt confused
and was a bit scared; there was a big question mark in
my mind: Why and what are we fighting for? Fighting
over what? We are all Vietnamese, why are we killing
each other? Why don't we sit down and sort things
out? At this time I also knew that America already
started sending military advisors to Vietnam. I
thought it was a good idea for I knew that China, the
Soviet Union and other communist countries in Eastern
Europe assisted North Vietnam so, it only fair that
South Vietnam ought to get help from her friend.

(To be continued.........)
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