FREEDOM AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY

                                                                                                                                               Hoi B. Tran

I am 70 years of age and retired after 50 years of continuous working.  I enlisted into the Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) in June 1953 at the age of 18 to fight against the tyrannical communist regime of North Vietnam.  In April 1975, I wound up in America as a refugee after South Vietnam, unfortunately, fell to the hand of the communist because of complex global politics.  As a new immigrant, I actively searched for employment and quickly got a job with the Department of Emergency Services in the State of Washington.  In late 1979, after a week’s vacation in California, I became in love with the wonderful climate of the Southwest and decided to move to California.  Upon settling in San Jose, I promptly found a job in the private sector in order to continue being self-sufficient, so as not to overburden America’s public assistance system.  I spent 24 years working in the private sector in different fields at different capacities.  In May 2003, I decided to retire.

I reconstructed my life in America at the age of 40.  As a refugee and as a naturalized American citizen, I worked my “rear end” off to survive and to pay my tax like everyone else.  America, my adopted country, offered me an opportunity and an invaluable present, something I was willing to fight for with my life but could not achieve: Liberty and Freedom.  America could not have achieved the level of Liberty and Freedom it has today if its citizenry was not willing to fight for it since its birth.  If it was not for the hundred of thousands of selfless, patriotic Americans sacrificing their lives in World War II, we Americans could probably speak a different language today, let alone Liberty and Freedom!  Even though I am a naturalized American citizen, not having the honor of being an U.S. born American, I am thankful and respectful for the noble sacrifices my fellow elder Americans have given to defend America and those who are fighting, sacrificing now in a land so far away to make America a great nation. 

When terrorists attacked our World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, as a senior citizen, I felt bad not being able to directly partake in the defense of my adopted country.  While I feel guilty not being able to bear arms to defend America, I am surprised and appalled to see some of my fellow Americans going out of their way to denounce our country and our government while we are at war.  During the process of learning to become an American, I came across a quote by Eric Hoffer, 1902-1983, an American philosopher:  “The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do”.  And, I strongly believe, we are free not to give aid and comfort to the enemies.  During the Vietnam War, many naïve, misinformed Americans have transgressed the bounds of freedom to defame our country, vilify our troops and give aid and comfort to our enemy.  Being a Vietnamese American, I appreciate and treasure Liberty and Freedom of Speech more than most, but I firmly believe freedom and moral responsibility should be inseparable.  Freedom without moral responsibility could, in the long run, be destructive to our national security!

Our country is now at war against terrorism.  Our cause is just and noble.  Our troops are in harms way trying to defend our country and protect us Americans here at home.  We are free to do whatever we possibly can to support our troops on the battlefields.  We are free to honor our fallen heroes and to grieve their loss with their families.  We are free to unite behind our cause, our government and our troops, in order to shorten the war so our brave young men and women in uniform can come home.  And, we are also free not to denounce our cause, undermine our government and demoralize our troops.  More importantly, we are free not to give aid and comfort to the barbaric enemy who enjoy killing innocent Americans and innocent people.  In my opinion, it is not right for us to exercise freedom to insult and denounce our troops, those who are making sacrifices to defend and provide us freedom.  It is time for us to search our conscience to reveal our duty towards our country and our people.

 IT IS TIME TO EXERCISE OUR FREEDOM WITH MORAL RESPONSIBILITY. 


©Vietnamese & American Veterans of the Vietnam War, 2005 All Rights Reserved

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