Our Younger Generation PayingTribute All Veterans on Freedom Rally in Prescott Valley, AZon July 24, 2010.

Administrator’sNote:  The sincere gratitude and heartfelt tribute to Viet Nam veterans and all veterans below wasdelivered by Quang Nguyen at the Freedom Rally in Prescott Valley, AZon July 24, 2010.  He also demonstrated his profound appreciation to hisadopted country, United States of America.  This young man hadeloquently expressed the feeling of his elder Vietnamese Americangeneration.  Quang immigrated to the U.S. as aVietnamese refugee 35 years ago at the age of 12.

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35 years ago if you were to tellme that I am going to stand up here speaking in English to a large group ofpatriots, I’d laugh at you.  Every morning I wake up thanking Godfor putting family and me in the greatest country on earth.

I just want you all to know thatthe American dream does exist and I am living the American dream.  I wasasked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation VietnameseAmerican, but I rather speak to you as an American.

If you hadn’t noticed, I amnot white and I feel pretty comfortable with my people.

I am a proud US citizen andhere 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.

I still remember the images of the offensive in 1968.  I was six yearsold.  Now you might want to question how a 6 year old boy could rememberanything.  Trust those images can never beerased.  I can’t even imagine what it was like for young Americansoldiers, 10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf.

35 years ago, I left South Vietnam to come to America forpolitical asylum.  The war had ended. At the age of 13, I left with theunderstanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parentsagain.  I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come tothe US.  Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California.  It wasa miracle from God.

If you haven’t heard latelythat this is the greatest country on earth, let me tell you, IT IS!!! It is thefreedom and the opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of youtonight.  I also remember the barriers that I had to overcome every stepof the way.  My high school counselor told me that I could not make it tocollege due to my poor communication skills.  I proved him wrong.  Ifinished college.  You see…  All you have to do is to give thislittle boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it. Well, I took the opportunities and here I am.  This person standingtonight 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 herewill chip in to get you a one-way ticket out of here.  And if youdidn’t know, the only difference between socialism and communism is anAK-47 aiming at your head. That was what I knew and grew up with.

In 1983, I stood with a thousandnew immigrants, reciting the pledge of allegiance and listening to the NationalAnthem for the first time as an American.  To this day, I can’tremember anything sweeter and more patriotic than that moment in my life.

Fast forwarding, somehow Ifinished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21 year oldkid, I was having a great time with my life, had anice job and a nice apartment in Southern California.In someway and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and I am here.

One day I was at a gas station, Isaw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island.  I didn’tknow what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam. He smiled and said .  I shook and held hishand.  His eyes started to well up.  I walked away as fast as I couldand at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked, this was a profound momentin life. I knew something had to change in my life.  It was time for me tolearn how to be a good citizen.  It was time for me to give back.

You see… America is notplace on the map; it isn’t a physical location.  It is an ideal, aconcept.  And if you are an American, you must understand the concept, youmust buy into this concept and most importantly, you have to fight and defendthis concept.  This is about Freedom… and not free stuff.  Andthat is why I am standing up here.  Brothers and sisters, to be a realAmerican, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand itwell.  In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen ifyou can’t speak the language of the country you live in.  Take thisdocument of 46 pages…  Last I looked on the internet,there wasn’t a Vietnamese translation of the US constitution.  It took me along time to get to the point of being able to converse and until this day, Istill struggle to come up with the right words.  It’s not easy, butif it’s too easy, it’s not worth doing.

Before I got to know this 46- pagedocument, I learned of the 500,000 Americans and so many of South Vietnamesesoldiers including my two brothers, foughtfor this little boy.  I learned of the 58,000 names scribed on the blackwall at the Vietnam War memorial.  You are my heroes.  You are myfounders.

When I was eligible to vote, Iwent out and performed my civic duty.  For all of you young people outthere, who just turned 18, I encourage you to exercise your duty as an Americanto be an informed voter no matter where you are or what you do.  America foughtand died for your rights. DON’T LET HER DOWN!

At this time, I would like to askall the Vietnamveterans to please stand. I thank you for my life. I thank you for yoursacrifices, and I thank you for giving me the freedom and the liberties I havetoday.  I now ask veterans, firefighters, andpolice officers, to please stand.  On behalf of all first generationimmigrants, I thank you for your service and May God bless you all and May God bless America!

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