Thursday, April 30, 2015
The Fall of Saigon, 40th Anniversary
Last night Macrine and I were watching the PBS documentary on the Fall of Saigon, Vietnam in 1975. Today is the 40th anniversary of that historic event during the Vietnam War. Watching the film made me cry and reminded me of our manicurist and her family.
Last week I decided to have a pedicure at a nail salon near us. This nail salon has been Macrine's favorite place for her monthly manicure and pedicure for the last two years. The nail salon is owned and operated by a Vietnamese couple in their mid 50's. It is only a four-seat salon with four employees, husband and wife, daughter and a sister. During my foot massage and pedicure, I asked the lady in charge how they came to the US. She said "we are the boat people".
I decided not to continue the conversation, because I felt it might trigger bad memories for her. However, I decided I should do more research on this subject. So when I saw the PBS ads on the documentary, Macrine and I watched the documentary with great anticipation. It is titled the Vietnam Experience and subtitle the Last 10 Days of the Fall of Saigon. It is a documentary that is a must watched if you are a history enthusiast and if you have any dealings with Vietnamese immigrants in your neighborhood. Most of the Boat and Helicopter people settled in Southern California.
Here's a short video and summary of that historic day in the life of the Vietnamese people who could be your neighbors.
The term boat people as listed in the Wikipedia is as follows: Vietnamese boat people refers to refugees who fled Vietnam by boat and ship after the Vietnam War, especially during 1978 and 1979, but continuing until the early 1990s. The term is also often used generically to refer to all the Vietnamese (about 2 million) who left their country by any means between 1975 and 1995.
The number of boat people leaving Vietnam and arriving safely in another country totalled almost 800,000 between 1975 and 1995. Many of the refugees failed to survive the passage, facing danger and hardship from pirates, over-crowded boats, and storms. The boat people's first destination were the Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Singapore plus the British colony of Hong Kong. The mass flight of hundreds of thousands of boat people from Vietnam in 1978 and 1979 caused an international humanitarian crisis with the Southeast Asian countries increasingly unwilling to accept more boat people on their shores. After negotiations and an international conference in 1979, Vietnam agreed to limit the flow of people leaving the country, the Southeast Asian countries agreed to admit the boat people temporarily, and the rest of the world, especially the developed countries, agreed to assume most of the costs of caring for the boat people and to resettle them in their countries.
Note: Macrine's hair dresser and my barber are also members of the Boat People.