August 16, 2013
Please welcome Viet Quoc Tran, our latest guest blogger, to ReaganGirl.com. Mr. Tran lives in Vero Beach, Florida. He has worked as an accountant and is currently pursuing his dream of becoming a writer. He has written for Vietnamese language blogs which promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam. His favorite writer is Alexander Solzhenitsyn and his favorite American president Ronald Reagan.
Mr. Tran arrived in the United States in 1992. He lived in California for many years before he moved in Florida .
The Lingering Darkness of the War
by Viet Quoc Tran
I was born a disabled boy in a poor and crowded family in Vietnam. More sadly, I was also born to hastily grow up in the circumstances of one of the most bloody and merciless civil wars in the twentieth century, a “century of sorrow.”
Not surprisingly, my sensitive and tender childhood was fitfully obsessed by fears of the war. However, this was just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, the war robbed me of precious, necessary innocence and of an ordinary peace of mind as well. Like an invisible shroud of fate, the war certainly wrapped up my first years under the sun. I saw the pitifully maimed corpses, the almost constant anxiety reflected on my parents’ faces, and heard the frightening war-related news and rumors circulated daily around my hometown and sometimes at the dinner table of the family. Sometimes at night when there would be an air raid my mother would wake me up and urge me to quickly run out of the house . We would hide in our sandbag-built shelter in the yard. Then, the following morning I went to school and heard similar stories from my classmates.
From such situations I was soon mature enough to realize that to live was the most important concern and that everything else, from fairytales to dreams, gradually faded into nearly lost luxuries.Ironically, the sudden end of the war brought about only successive tragedies. My father was thrown into the forced-labor camps in remote northern regions. My eldest sister was so hopeless that she managed to escape from Vietnam. My persistent, courageous mother extraordinarily struggled to support our remaining family with ten children. By that time I was not yet thirteen years old.Peace was, in my case, worse than the war. I could not study at any college or university after I graduated from high school. I was academically eligible but not politically qualified to study more. After all, the Communist regime had already classified my family as politically backward second class, the untouchables of a modern caste system.
Ten year later, my father was free but already physically and mentally withered. Soon I was accepted to study at a university after I had passed a difficult entrance examination. My joy was, however, short-lived. After the first month at the university, I bitterly came to realize that it has been reduced almost to a rudely propagandizing apparatus of the repressive regime. There knowledge and general truths were readily distorted and manipulated to turn out the politically loyal yet partly soulless cadres rather than the useful and motivated persons. For instance, my major was English but, in practice, I had to learn a heavily politicalized English language and only Communism-related courses.
I never had any chance to study courses necessary to general education, such as the arts, humanities and social sciences.I managed to protect my mind and heart from all the ideological efforts of the regime. Somehow, like a totally closed oasis, I became mentally poorer, lonelier and rustier while waves of information and of democratic spirit continued to wash over the outside world. After my graduation I could not land any job due to the political “stain” on the past of my father. During this period of confidence disorientation, I wrote a couple of coded stories criticizing social inequalities and also began to dream of Abraham Lincoln and of the Statue of Liberty beyond the Pacific Ocean.
My family immigrated into the United States in 1992. Like the other immigrants to America, we have started our new lives with a lot of hope and optimism. Moreover, I have tried to forget my sorrow-laden past life in Vietnam, a very poor and unlucky land which I will always love so much. Nevertheless, I understand that I should live for the present and the future in America, my second country. Obviously, to forget a part of my life is far from easy. Like rediscovered tears, the past sometimes sneaks on me in sleep.
At present, I have been diligently studying required courses of business, my major, and, at the same time, interestedly filling big holes in my knowledge. No wonder, the bitter experiences in the past have helped me find the right path to follow in the present. I have become a voluntary tutor in Math and English, especially for those students whose first language is not English, such as the Vietnamese, Mexican, Koreans and so on. Wonderfully, they also help me realize many things through my listening to their stories . The first thing is that our global village is not really as happy as some of us have thought. Secondly, my story of past life is not an extreme one as long as there are still poverty, war and ignorance.
For me, the American Dream is a good education. Once the dream comes true, it will enable me to achieve something more positive in the remaining productive years of my life. Your university is the next place where I want to continue growing toward that lifelong dream.
August 16, 2013