On Saturday, July 24, 2010, We the INFORMED People sponsored The Prescott Valley Freedom Rally. Quang Nguyen delivered this stunning message. Please tell your veteran friends about his message!
For your convenience, here is the written copy of his speech.
35 years ago if you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here speaking in English to a large group of patriots, I’d laugh at you. Every morning I wake up thanking God for putting family and me in the greatest country on earth.
I just want you all to know that the American dream does exist and I am living the American dream. I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation Vietnamese American, but I rather speak to you as an American.
If you hadn’t noticed, I am not white and I feel pretty comfortable with my people.
I am a proud US citizen and here is my proof… It took me 8 years to get it, waiting in endless lines, but I got it and I am very proud of it. Guess what, I did it legally and it ain’t from the state of Hawaii.
I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968. I was six years old. Now you might want to question how a 6year old boy could remember anything. Trust me, those images can never be erased. I can’t even imagine what it was like for young American soldiers, 10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf. 35 years ago, I left South Vietnam to come to America for political asylum. The war had ended. At the age of 13, I left with the understanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again. I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come to the US. Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California. It was a miracle from God.
If you haven’t heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth, let me tell you, IT IS!!! It is the freedom and the opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight. I also remember the barriers that I had to overcome every step of the way. My high school counselor told me that I could not make it to college due to my poor communication skills. I proved him wrong. I finished college. You see… All you have to do is to give this little boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it. Well, I took the opportunities and here I am. This person standing tonight in front of you could not exist under a socialist/communist environment. By the way, if you think socialism is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in to get you a one-way ticket out of here. And if you didn’t know, the only difference between socialism and communism is an AK-47 aiming at your head. That was what I knew and grew up with.
In 1983, I stood with a thousand new immigrants, reciting the pledge of allegiance and listening to the National Anthem for the first time as an American. To this day, I can’t remember anything sweeter and more patriotic than that moment in my life.
Fast forwarding, somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21 year old kid, I was having a great time with my life, I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern California. In someway and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and why I am here.
One day I was at a gas station, I saw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island. I didn’t know what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam. He smiled and said Yes. I shook and held his hand. His eyes started to well up. I walked away as fast as I could and at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked, this was a profound moment in life. I knew something had to change in my life. It was time for me to learn how to be a good citizen. It was time for me to give back.
You see… America is not place on the map; it isn’t a physical location. It is an ideal, a concept. And if you are an American, you must understand the concept, you must buy into this concept and most importantly, you have to fight and defend this concept. This is about Freedom… and not free stuff. And that is why I am standing up here. Brothers and sisters, to be a real American, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand it well. In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can’t speak the language of the country you live in. Take this document of 46 pages… Last I looked on the internet, there wasn’t a Vietnamese translation of the US constitution. It took me a long time to get to the point of being able to converse and until this day, I still struggle to come up with the right words. It’s not easy, but if it’s too easy, it’s not worth doing.
Before I got to know this 46- page document, I learned of the 500,000 Americans who fought for this little boy. I learned of the 58,000 names scribed on the black wall at the Vietnam War memorial. You are my heroes. You are my founders.
When I was eligible to vote, I went out and performed my civic duty. For all of you young people out there, who just turned 18, I encourage you to exercise your duty as an American to be an informed voter no matter where you are or what you do. America fought and died for your rights. DON’T LET HER DOWN!!!
At this time, I would like to ask all the Vietnam veterans to please stand. I thank you for my life. I thank you for your sacrifices, and I thank you for giving me the freedom and the liberties I have today. I now ask All veterans, firefighters, and police officers, to please stand. On behalf of all first generation immigrants, I thank you for your service and may God bless you all and may God bless America!
Quang Nguyen, delivered at the Prescott Valley Freedom Rally, Prescott Valley, AZ July 24, 2010.