FALL OF SAIGON STORIES
(c) Copyright 2001 Lonely Planet Publications.
All rights reserved.
It seems fitting that with the twenty-year anniversary of the fall of Saigon
to the Peoples Army of Vietnam, special recognition of the memories, feelings,
and introspections regarding April 30, 1975 is in order. Many of our Vietnamese
students at Mission College experienced first hand the deprivation, humiliation,
and fear associated with losing their government, their way of life, and
their freedom. Many were children and perceived these devastations through
their caretakers, but clearly as can be seen from their stories a shadow
lives in their hearts as well. But all who left their Vietnamese homeland
to come to the United States chose a life filled with uncertainty, change,
and stuggle over a life in their homeland under a Communist thumb.
I have a personal interest in this subject because I have many
Vietnamese students in my classes and I'm constantly amazed at the stories
they write in their journals and other assignments about their past lives.
It is often difficult to fully appreciate the extent to which these diligent
quiet people have survived all manner of disasters and trauma and have
gone on to lead civil productive lives.
The following are the stories as well as excerpts from stories written
by many Vietnamese students attending Mission College during the spring
semester of 1995.
TABLE OF CONTENTS AND REFERENCE GUIDE
"Right now, there aren't any freedoms in my country such as freedoms of
speech, belief, residence, and politics."
"The huge door of the palace slowly opened, letting those Russian tanks
run victoriously and proudly to the porch. Can you imagine the deep sorrow
of the people in the South?"
"We couldn't meet or do anything with people who were directly involved
in resisting the April 30, 1975 Communist takeover. The Vietcong said they
were criminals. We couldn't even listen to any love songs that talked about
the cruelty of the war in Vietnam."
"Me and my husband went down a little hole that someone had prepared so
that we could avoid the bullets. We lit a candle so we could have some
light. ... I was frightened and held my husband's hand tightly. If we were
going to die we wanted to die together."
"My sisters have told me that during that time my body was very thin because
of under nourishment and I was covered with scabies. Almost everything
we had was sold for rice. We had only a few dishes, some old clothes, and
a few torn blankets."
"Those who could walk ran up and down, back and forth, but they did not
know where to go. They were looking for some possible way to protect their
"When I stopped to rest, my mother made some milk for me, but it was hard
for me to drink it because I was so scared."
"... my mom looked at me and said, 'How would you feel if you lived alone?'
In a second my ears felt like there were some ants crawling in there and
my heart beat faster and faster. I asked, 'What happened, Mom?' "
"[Patients] were lying or sitting everywhere on the road in front of the
army hospital with tears and more tears in their eyes. The doctors and
nurses were also sent away and replaced by Communists who had not even
graduated from high school."
"I destroyed my office. I did it because I did not want to leave anything
in my responsibility to the enemy. It was an image I've never forgotten.
I stood alone to see my office on fire with tears in my eyes. I had lost
everything; my country and my freedom."
"...a new red flag with a yellow star in the center went up; a Communist
flag which people were scared of and tried to escape from because it represented
a government administered mainly by police."
"As soon as the Communists took over South Vietnam, they sent many of the
educated people to the jungle as prisoners. They ordered us to plow by
human power and build cottages with mud and straw. They handcuffed and
legcuffed all of us like animals and forced us to earn a living by hard
"My sister and younger brother were also attending university, but when
the Communists occupied South Vietnam, my father was put in jail and we
were thrown out of the university. "
"However, I didn't think that I would leave my wife and children forever
because I thought that the enemy could not violate the cease fire and everything
would be over very quickly."
"... from 1975 to 1982 we didn't have enough food. We were used to having
rice, meat, and vegetables for lunch and dinner (it was traditional), but
at that time, we had to eat corn, sweet potatoes, and yams instead of rice."
"I remember watching cartoons on TV which showed the Viet Cong as devils
or cruel monkeys. It made me scared of them even though I was too young
to understand political events."
"... they sent the rest of us, my mother and eight kids, to Tay Ninh. They
threw sixty to seventy people on a bus and off we went. Tay Ninh was a
jungle with no houses, no food, no store. We had to learn how to survive."
"At midnight, my friends and I went secretly to the pier and got a boat.
We all got in and at first I didn't start the engine, but just moved smoothly
along with the current. When the boat was far from the pier, I started
the engine and went toward the sea."
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