41 Years Ago Today

Lord, help us never forget the classmates who went to S.E. Asia, those returned whole or in part and especially those who didn’t return.

Mitch Teemley

Vietnam Mem'l Wall

By the time the war ended, 58,220 American soldiers had died in Vietnam. And, in a strange irony, 50,000 of the people they’d gone to save had been evacuated to the United States. It was the largest airlift in U.S. history.

I remember when the refugees arrived at the Marine Corps Air Station in Orange County, just minutes from where I lived and studied at the University of California, Irvine.

During that long, hot summer of 1975 (the hottest in thirty years), wave after wave of uprooted Southeast Asians settled into reinvented lives. “Little Saigon” in Garden Grove became the largest enclave of Vietnamese (over 200,000) outside of Vietnam. Nguyen Cao Ky, the former president of South Vietnam, ran a liquor store there.

I sensed some sort of circle had closed when, in the mid-90’s, I overheard a couple of teenagers drooling in “totally” SoCal girl accents over a dress…

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4 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

4 responses to “41 Years Ago Today

  1. I have to say as a Canadian, the Vietnam memorial was shockingly, breathtakingly moving; even though I knew about it (saw the movie about the making of it), to be there as a foreigner, and to see our reflections in the polished stone with the etched names of some 58,000 was overwhelming.

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    • I’ve only seen replicas and photographs – granted some astounding ones. I’m a little jealous. We must forgive and move on, but never forget.

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  2. Love your heart, Roo.

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    • Thank you, Mitch. I’m very thankful three of my brothers and many classmates returned from Viet Nam. One brother in particular still suffers with PTSD. Though he’s fully functioning he’ll likely never be the same.

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