41 Years Ago Today

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 in a mall window. I turned to see two first generation Vietnamese-Americans.

Today, while the airlift generation’s grandchildren play, the soldier’s grandchildren plan trips to the Vietnam Memorial. Nothing happens the way we expect it to. Lives that were supposed to go on end. And lives that were afterthoughts continue.

In honor of those who gave their lives.

And those whose lives were changed forever.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to 41 Years Ago Today

  1. Amen. I too remember.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. May they never be forgotten, ever.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Laurie Welch says:

    Mitch, you write so well….

    Liked by 2 people

  4. frenchc1955 says:

    Thank you for this excellent and moving post.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Mitch Teemley’s post is both excellent and important.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful tributary post… thank you, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on ENLIGHTENMENT ANGELS and commented:
    In honor of those who gave their lives. And, those whose lives were changed forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Roos Ruse says:

    Reblogged this on Whats Next and commented:
    Lord, help us neber forget the classmates who went to S.E. Asia, those returned whole or in part and especially those who didn’t return.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Beautifully written and thought-provoking. Life is certainly mysterious.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Lucie says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Kiddo…..Vietnam was such a tumultuous time for all of us. Nice writing, profound picture….

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Mitch, the only thing I find difficult when reading your post is not reading them. Thank you for reminding us all of the things that matter.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Still proud to be the daughter of a Vietnam Vet… This post does so much to the heart and memories!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. VocareMentor says:

    Thank you Mitch. My brother was a medic in Vietnam and two cousins, both Marines, were killed there. Thank you for remembering and pointing out the positive through the many lives saved because of the airlift. Excellent tribute!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. jlfatgcs says:

    Wonderful post. Never forget. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dede says:

    I remember wearing POW bracelets in middle school. It’s so easy to forget and we never should forget.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. dee290978 says:

    Wow this is a great piece of writing, random question but how do you think the world has changed since them times?

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Wow. Huge question, Dee. I certainly can’t give a definitive answer, but…for me the world changed in that the sweet-but-shallow idealism of the hippie movement–whiched gave way to angry activism–pushed me toward the true source of peace, my Creator. A less personal answer: I think faith in our country and its traditional values as has eroded and that, in some ways, a new sweet-but-shallow idealism–coupled with angry activism–has emerged. Not all bad, but not all good either.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Reblogged this on Writers Envy and commented:
    Wars have endings and beginnings.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I did a tour in Vietnam from 1970-1971. Unfortunately, war is defined by our government saying we’re the good guys and our enemy’s government telling their young soldiers defending their country that they’re the good guys. At least it’s over… but only over There. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Veena says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us.A fresh aspect of war which revealed itself through post.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thank you for the post. Are you still living in the same county? I live in the same county also.

    Like

  21. From a once Blue Star mom, thank you!! Excellent post!

    Kind Regards- K

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Briony J Shutt says:

    This post is amazing, Thankyou for all the information and experience you shared, my name is Briony and I write for the http://www.thefairytalefinder.wordpress.com , I am currently working on a book review that requires knowledge about American warfare and tactics which as a 20 year old English girl, I don’t yet possess. If this sounds like something you may be willing to contribute to I would love to hear from you at brionyshutt@gmail.com

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Thank you for this one!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Beautiful and instructive. Moving way to remind us of what it was and what We should never forget

    Liked by 1 person

  25. calmkate says:

    Moving words, agree with your sentiments!

    Much thanks for visiting my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: 41 Years Ago Today — Mitch Teemley [Vietnam] – (Art)iculate Culture

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