Viet X. Luong: The South Vietnamese Kid Who Grew Up to Be a U.S. Army General

Posted in I. News, Inspirational People, IV. Columns with tags , , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by Ian Pham

Viet X. Luong Viet X. Luong gets promoted from Colonel to Brig. General of the U.S. Army in a ceremony on August 6, 2014 at Fort Hood, Texas. (Bryan Correira / NBC News)

Luong Xuan Viet, or Viet Xuan Luong in American vernacular, was only nine years old when he came to the United States as a South Vietnamese refugee (Bowman, 2015). Today, he holds the reigning achievement of being the first-ever Vietnamese-born person to reach the rank of Brig. General in the U.S. Army (Ghandi, 2014). Currently, he is stationed in South Korea, acting as the Deputy Commanding General of the Eighth Army of the United States (United States, 2017).

His story begins like so many of ours.

It was late April 1975, in the dying days of the Vietnam War. The Republic of Vietnam was on the verge of collapse, and like so many other South Vietnamese at the time, Viet’s family was frantically planning to evacuate the dying country.

During the last days of the war, Viet’s father, a marine in the South Vietnamese Army, called an emergency family meeting. There, it was decided that the Luong family would depart Vietnam before the communist takeover. Following a harrowing excursion to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, which involved sightings of communist artillery fire, Viet and his family entered a Marine helicopter and flew out to the Pacific. Eventually, the Luong family would land on the USS Hancock aircraft carrier, where Viet recalls his father telling him, “… nothing in the world can harm you now,” (Bowman, 2015).

Standing on the wide deck of that American aircraft carrier, Viet found his life’s calling (Hood, 2014). “I knew right back then that I wanted to serve our country,” Viet said (Bowman, 2015).

After becoming settled in Southern California with his family, Viet would come of age and steadily follow in his father’s footsteps (Hood, 2014).

As an undergrad at the University of Southern California, Viet joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (Bowman, 2015). During his time in the ROTC (1983-1987), he was the only cadet from an ethnic background (Garsema, 2016). Upon graduation, he joined the U.S. Army, and so began his professional military career (Bowman, 2015).

Through patience, hard work, and determination, Viet rose through the ranks of the U.S. Army to become the first Vietnamese-born ever to reach the level of general officer.

This historical moment took place on August 6, 2014, at Fort Hood, Texas, where Colonel Viet X. Luong’s uniform was pinned with the star of an Army Brigadier General (Japanese American Veterans Association, 2014).

As Brigadier General, Luong led the American training effort in Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, as Deputy Commander of the First Cavalry Division. This training prepared the Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban (Bowman, 2015).

In March 2016, General Luong become the Chief of Staff of U.S. Army Central (United States, 2016).

Earlier this year, in May of 2017, General Luong was assigned to South Korea as the Deputy Commanding General of Operations for the Eighth Army (United States, 2017).

Viet X. Luong’s story, his successful and still-growing military career, and his many personal victories and achievements are an inspiration for Vietnamese people everywhere, inside and outside of Vietnam. He is part of the South Vietnamese legacy, representing the struggle, hard work, and dedication of all Vietnamese people who love freedom, country, and family. His story is our story, and that story is the story of the freedom-loving Vietnamese people.

In the words of Luong himself, “As a Vietnamese American, and as an immigrant, I am a symbol of democracy, of freedom, of justice, of our constitution… I live every day trying to live up to the honor and prestige of one of the owners of that,” (Ghandi, 2014).

Viet X. LuongIn 2015, Brig. General Luong led the U.S. training of Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban. (David Gilkey / NPR)

General Viet X. Luong is a role model, not just for the Vietnamese community around the world, but for people everywhere.

Thank you for leading by example, General Luong, and thank you for your service.

 

Sources:

Bowman, Tom. “The Frightened Vietnamese Kid Who Became A U.S. Army General.” April 30, 2015. NPR. Accessed May 31, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/04/30/403082804/the-frightened-vietnamese-kid-who-became-a-u-s-army-general.

“Colonel Viet Xuan Luong Promoted to Flag Rank.” August 15, 2014. Japanese American Veterans Association. Accessed May 31, 2017. http://javadc.org/news/press-release/army-brigadier-general-viet-xuan-luong/.

Garsema, Emily. “USC Alum, An Army Brigadier General, Shares His Tale of Success With Cadets.” April 1, 2016. USC News. Accessed May 31, 2017. https://news.usc.edu/97768/usc-alum-an-army-brigadier-general-shares-his-tale-of-success-with-cadets/.

Ghandi, Lakshmi. “U.S. Military Promotes First Vietnamese-American General.” August 11, 2014. NBC News. Accessed May 31, 2017. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/u-s-military-promotes-first-vietnamese-american-general-n177936.

Hood, David. “Southern California Man is First Vietnamese-Born General in U.S. Military.” August 18, 2014. The Orange County Register. Accessed May 31, 2017. http://www.ocregister.com/2014/08/18/southern-california-man-is-first-vietnamese-born-general-in-us-military/.

United States. “General Officer Assignments, Release No: NR-088-16.” March 15, 2016. U.S. Department of Defense. Accessed May 31, 2017. https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/694035/general-officer-assignments/.

United States. “General Officer Assignments, Release No: NR-156-17.” March 15, 2016. U.S. Department of Defense. Accessed May 31, 2017. https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1168558/general-officer-assignments/.

What is Vietnamese Republicanism? An Introduction

Posted in Announcements, Art, Modern History, Opinions, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2017 by Ian Pham

Vietnamese Republicanism

Image by Ian Pham/Freedom For Vietnam

Editor’s Note: This article was first posted on Facebook late last night, on May 23, 2017. Expect much more in-depth discussions on this subject in the very near future. In the meantime, please read, comment, and share. The short-term objective is to disseminate this information quickly, and to reach as many people, inside and outside of Vietnam as possible. Communism has been destroying Vietnam for far too long. It’s time we started changing that. Thank you for reading, and thank you for the continued support.

Cheers,

Ian Pham

P.S. Please visit, ‘like,’ and ‘share’ the Vietnamese Republicanism Facebook page, and it’s Vietnamese counterpart, Chủ Nghĩa Cộng Hòa Việt Nam.

Vietnamese Republicanism is a political ideology. It is based on the three founding principles of Democracy, Human Rights, and National Defense, and its goal is to destroy Communism in Vietnam, bring freedom to the nation and people of Vietnam, and establish a liberal democratic Republic, of the Vietnamese people, by the Vietnamese people, and for the Vietnamese people.

The reason for the creation of this ideology is simple. Currently, Vietnam is in serious trouble. Never before, in over 2000 years, has Vietnam ever been so close to extinction and extermination. A change needs to happen in Vietnam, the thinking of the Vietnamese people who have been affected by Communism needs to change, and this is where Vietnamese Republicanism comes in. Vietnamese Republicanism is an ideology of change. Vietnamese Republicanism is an ideology of strength, progress, and resilience. And, at its core, Vietnamese Republicanism is a full-on attack on the cowardly, corrupted, and treasonous ideology of Communism.

As we speak, the Communist Party of Vietnam is willingly handing over the Vietnamese nation to the Chinese invaders, allowing Chinese people to freely enter and live in Vietnam without visas or paperwork, and permitting them to steal Vietnamese jobs, abuse Vietnamese citizens, and disrespect the Vietnamese heritage and way of life. Evil Chinese corporations such as Formosa, Lee & Man, and Bauxite are wreaking havoc and devastation across Vietnamese land, poisoning the waters, wiping out the food supply, and slowly starving, infecting, and killing the people of Vietnam, little by little. In the long run, millions of Vietnamese people will die as a result of these deliberate actions committed by these Chinese corporations. Moreover, the mining operations of these Chinese companies continue to devastate the Vietnamese environment, Vietnamese trees continue to be cut down in staggering numbers, and more broadly, Vietnamese forests, highlands, oceans, and vegetation are being blatantly destroyed by these Chinese corporations. All of these atrocities are part of a wider, diabolical, and evil plan by the Chinese government in Beijing to slowly and quietly eradicate the Vietnamese people. Instead of deploying weapons of war, the Chinese government is carrying out environmental terrorism against the Vietnamese people, as part of a broader Chinese operation of silent genocide against the Vietnamese people. Adding to the peril and humiliation is the fact that all of these evil Chinese schemes have been, and continue to be permitted by the Communist Party of Vietnam, who have already surrendered themselves over to the Chinese invaders.

In the seas, Chinese military personnel have been killing Vietnamese fishermen for decades, and continue to do so with impunity, without a single word of protest from the cowardly Communist Party of Vietnam. Furthermore, Beijing continues to try imposing the Chinese language into Vietnamese schools, and attempts to force the teaching of Chinese history into these same Vietnamese schools, all in an attempt to replace the heritage of the Vietnamese people in our own country. Thus far, the slavish Communist Party of Vietnam has been unsuccessful in pushing the cultural cleansing agenda of their Chinese masters, but they continue to try, and if we don’t stop them, eventually they will succeed.

In short, Vietnam is in serious danger, and if we don’t act now, Armageddon may soon be upon us.

In order for us to preserve and protect our Vietnamese heritage and our Vietnamese nation, we must change the way we think about ourselves as Vietnamese people, and we must change the way we think about our Vietnamese nation. This changing of thought, this changing of vision, and this changing of aspiration, is the first thing that Vietnamese Republicanism is set out to do.

As Vietnamese people, we must understand that we are exceptional. As citizens of the Vietnamese nation, we must understand that the Vietnamese nation is exceptional. First and foremost, it is the goal of Vietnamese Republicanism to make Vietnamese people everywhere, inside and outside of Vietnam understand that the Vietnamese people are an exceptional people, and that the Vietnamese nation is an exceptional nation.

For nearly 80 years, Communism has destroyed the spirit of the Vietnamese people, and disgraced the proud, rich and noble history of the Vietnamese nation. Communism has made the Vietnamese people believe that we are slaves, that we are weak, that we are insignificant, that we are inferior. This is the mindset of the Communist Party of Vietnam, and this is the mindset that the Communist Party has been forcing on the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people, the Vietnamese youth, for nearly one century. It is this mentality that made possible the current Chinese incursion into Vietnam. It is this mentality that makes the Vietnamese people passive, apathetic, and meek in the face of the Chinese invasion. It is this mentality that has made it possible for the Chinese to walk into Vietnamese land, shit on the Vietnamese dinner table, and insult the sacred traditions of the Vietnamese nation.

Communism, and the Communist Party of Vietnam, has destroyed the dignity, pride, and hope of the Vietnamese people. Communism has disgraced the thousands years’ history of Vietnam, and the ancient, sacred traditions of the Vietnamese people. Communism is a stain, a scourge, and a disease to Vietnam. Communism must be destroyed, along with the Communist Party of Vietnam, and all of its members. The destruction of Communism, the Communist Party, and all of its members, is one of the major objectives of Vietnamese Republicanism.

As a show of fairness and good will, Vietnamese Republicanism recognizes that there are some within the Communist Party of Vietnam who secretly hate the Communist Party, wish to abandon the Communist Party, hate Communism, and wish to abandon Communism. Vietnamese Republicanism encourages these members to forsake and abandon the Communist Party of Vietnam, forsake and abandon Communism, and to embrace and join the Vietnamese Republican cause. Vietnamese Republicanism welcomes anyone who believes in the Vietnamese people, the Vietnamese nation, and the principles of Democracy, Human Rights, and National Defense. Therefore, Vietnamese Republicanism is willing to forgive those who wish to repent for their sins and join the Vietnamese Republican movement.

Communism is an ideology of cowardice.
Vietnamese Republicanism is an ideology of courage.

Communism is an ideology of treason.
Vietnamese Republicanism is an ideology of patriotism.

Communism is an ideology of slavery.
Vietnamese Republicanism is an ideology of freedom.

It is for this reason that I encourage everyone to reject Communism, and choose Vietnamese Republicanism to pave the way for Vietnam’s future.

Where Communism says cower in the face of Chinese aggression, Vietnamese Republicanism says stand tall in the face of Chinese aggression, and fight in the face of Chinese aggression.

Where Communism says to forget the greatness of the Vietnamese people, Vietnamese Republicanism says remember the greatness of the Vietnamese people. Not only that, but Vietnamese Republicanism says to be proud of the greatness of the Vietnamese people, to build on the greatness of the Vietnamese people, and dare to dream of creating the greatest nation that the world has ever seen, an exceptional Vietnamese Republic, a shining city on the hill, built on the will, the heart, and the greatness of the Vietnamese people, its rich history, and its ancient lineage.

It is time to end the failed experiment of Communism, and punish the Communist Party of Vietnam for all of their crimes against the nation of Vietnam, the people of Vietnam, and the sacred traditions of Vietnam. To accomplish this goal of removing Communism from the Vietnamese consciousness, and expelling the Communist Party of Vietnam from their tyrannical, treasonous, and dictatorial rule over Vietnam, I put forward the superior ideology of Vietnamese Republicanism as a starting point, a foundation for change in restoring the greatness of the Vietnamese nation, and then exceeding that greatness to unparalleled heights.

Vietnamese Republicanism is an ideology founded on the principles of Democracy, Human Rights, and National Defense. The flag of Vietnamese Republicanism is yellow, with three stars at its center, and three stripes above the stars. The three stars at the center of the Vietnamese Republican flag represent the three principles of Democracy, Human Rights, and National Defense, while the three stripes above represent the former Republic of Vietnam, a nation that existed on the principles of Fatherland, Honor, and Duty.

The former Republic of Vietnam was a free nation, a proud nation, and a courageous nation that kept its people safe at all costs. Its legacy remains a guiding light in these dark times, reminding the Vietnamese people that one time in modern history, there was a Vietnamese nation that was strong, proud, and free. The three stripes, which represent the North, Central, and South of all of Vietnam, represent the entire Republic, of the Vietnamese people, by the Vietnamese people, and for the Vietnamese people. These three stripes stand as the true symbol of the Vietnamese nation, and by including the symbol of this Republic on the new Vietnamese Republican flag, Vietnamese Republicanism recognizes and honors the proud and noble legacy, as well as the righteous ideals, and all of the heroes of the former Republic of Vietnam.

The yellow of the Vietnamese Republican flag represents prosperity, optimism, and the golden skin of the Vietnamese people. This yellow signifies the goals, aspirations, and pride of the Vietnamese people, and the endless potential of the Vietnamese nation. Furthermore, yellow is the color of anti-Communism. Yellow is feared by the Communists, and hated by the Communists. In embodying the color yellow, Vietnamese Republicanism declares proudly to be an ideology that despises Communism, rejects Communism, and seeks to destroy Communism.

As for the selection of Democracy, Human Rights, and National Defense as the three founding principles of Vietnamese Republicanism, the explanations are as follows.

Democracy gives the Vietnamese people the choice to select their leaders in free, fair, and frequent national elections. The democratic system allows multiple political parties to organize and compete in national elections, which take place every four years. Representative democracy, which is the most popular and common form of democracy in the free world, allows for citizens of different districts across the country to elect representatives and senators to represent them in the making of laws, the operation of the country, and to be their voice in government. Furthermore, representative democracy allows for the citizens of the nation to select their president, the commander-in-chief of the nation, in these free, fair, and frequent national elections. In a democracy, the job of the president is to serve the people, not himself or herself, or his or her party. Thus the mandate of the president depends solely on the will of the Vietnamese people, who decide the right to govern of their president through the power of their voice and their vote. In a democracy, it is the people and the nation that comes first, not the party. The freedom to choose the leader of the nation, the choice of many different political parties with different visions, views, and platforms, and the power to replace any leader and government that fails to perform its duties to the people, are all reasons why democracy is superior to one-party rule, and why Vietnamese Republicanism is superior to Communism.

Human Rights ensure the protection of every single Vietnamese citizen from cruel and unfair treatment by the government. In a nation of human rights, the government cannot enter the house or home of a citizen without a warrant or his or her explicit consent, and cannot touch or inspect his or her private property without a warrant or his or her explicit consent. Nor can the government, in a human rights nation, be able to arrest, jail, or search a citizen without a warrant or probable cause. In a human rights nation, the citizen is innocent until proven guilty, and protected from fear, terror, and violence at the hands of the police and the government. Human rights nations ensure the fair, just, and equal treatment of all citizens, regardless of their race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliations, financial status, and other such differences. Human rights nations guarantee the inalienable fundamental rights and dignity of every citizen, and guarantee the fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. Vietnamese Republicanism envisions a society with all of these freedoms and rights, which is another reason why Vietnamese Republicanism is superior to the brutal, corrupted, and evil ideology of Communism.

National Defense is the defense of the nation, both from external threats, and internal threats of any kind. Vietnamese Republicanism believes that national defense is essential to the survival and success of the nation. The principle of national defense stipulates that the safety, security, and territorial integrity of the nation and its people are of utmost importance to the survival and success of the nation. No matter in weakness or in strength, in sickness or in health, the defense of the nation must always be a priority for the people of Vietnam, from the president, to the armed forces, to the common citizen. In terms of national defense, Vietnamese Republicanism believes in the development of a large, powerful, and advanced military whose sole duty is to serve and protect its nation and its people. What is more, Vietnamese Republicanism believes in fighting back against Chinese aggression, pushing back against Chinese disrespect, and identifying China as the major threat to the existence and survival of the Vietnamese nation. Furthermore, in terms of national defense, through the eyes of Vietnamese Republicanism, Vietnam is not afraid of China, and shall be willing and able to fight China, confront China, and defeat China at any time, in any place, by any means. Where Communism cowers in the face of Chinese aggression, Vietnamese Republicanism stands and fights in the face of Chinese aggression. Furthermore, while Communism accepts defeat before the fight even begins, Vietnamese Republicanism seeks to win the fight, and doing so conclusively and unapologetically. In addition, in terms of national defense, Vietnamese Republicanism believes in the ceasing of operations, expelling, and punishing of all of those evil Chinese and foreign companies that are currently wreaking havoc, misery, and destruction all across Vietnam. Whether the threats are China, or anyone else, anywhere else, inside or outside of Vietnam, the principle of national defense commands that these threats be confronted and eliminated in the name of safety, security, and sovereignty of the Vietnamese nation and its people. Vietnamese Republicanism places priority on the safety and security of the Vietnamese people, and defends the territory and sovereignty of the Vietnamese nation. This principle, once again, is why Vietnamese Republicanism is superior to the cowardly and treasonous ideology of Communism.

This is Vietnamese Republicanism, and stated throughout are the goals and aspirations of Vietnamese Republicanism.

Vietnamese Republicanism believes in the greatness of the Vietnamese people, and the endless potential of the Vietnamese nation. Vietnam has all the capabilities to be a strong, free, and prosperous nation. Without a doubt, Vietnam has the potential to be a superpower nation on the world stage. Vietnam has the power to be whatever it desires to be. The only thing standing in the way between Vietnam and greatness is Communism. For this reason, Communism must be eliminated, and Vietnamese Republicanism has the power to make it happen.

It is the goal of Vietnamese Republicanism to destroy Communism, the Communist Party of Vietnam, and punish all of its members for the crimes they have committed against the Vietnamese nation and its people. To accomplish this goal, we must change the way of thinking of every Vietnamese person who has fallen victim to the evil spell of Communism. In order to do this, we must start by disseminating this information, as far and wide as possible, and as quickly as possible.

By any means imaginable, and then pushing beyond these limits, spread the idea of Vietnamese Republicanism to your friends, family, acquaintances, associates, and anyone else you can possibly reach. Use email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the comments section of internet arguments, Tinder, brochures, pamphlets, leaflets, written letters, mail, brail, secret handshakes, sign language, postcards, puppet shows, and even courier pigeons, whatever. Any way you can think of to disseminate this information, do it. Then think of other ways you never even thought of before, and do that. Then keep thinking, and innovating, and doing, and then repeat, again and again, until you are so quick, so cunning, and so effective that you make the Communists’ heads explode with your speed and efficiency. And then do it some more. To the people inside Vietnam, this goes double for you. As the ones inside the system, the boots on the ground, you have the most influence in sparking change in Vietnam, so I encourage you extra hard to effectively pass this information along to your fellow Vietnamese in Vietnam. If we are successful, you will be at the forefront of the fight for freedom and country, and the leaders of the establishment of the Vietnamese Republic. Hopefully that is enough incentive for you to get on board.

This is only the first chapter in the quest to spread Vietnamese Republicanism throughout Vietnam and across the world, and ultimately, to bring the change that Vietnam so desperately needs. Expect more articles, more elaboration, and more ideas on this Vietnamese Republicanism ideology that believes in the greatness of the Vietnamese people, and the boundless potential of the Vietnamese nation, once it is rid of Communism.

Though there is much more to come, I would like to leave you all with the following question: Based on what has been expressed so far, would you consider yourself a Vietnamese Republican?

Join the movement. Let’s bring freedom to Vietnam. Together.

Southern Heroes: Le Van Hung, the ARVN, and the Battle of An Loc

Posted in Modern History with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2017 by Ian Pham

levanhungPhoto via Freedom For Vietnam

Introduction and Commemoration

Words cannot express the deep pain felt by the loss of our nation, South Vietnam, nor can it be expressed the endless gratitude felt for those brave soldiers who so valiantly gave their lives for a cause that was so noble, and in the face of such overwhelming odds.

On this day, April 30, 2017, we pay tribute to the fallen heroes who gave their lives to defend our nation and our freedom, as well as those blessed heroes who lived on to tell the tale of their fallen brothers and sisters in arms. Furthermore, on this day, we pay our gratitude, not only to the soldiers, but also the common citizens, those brave souls who departed from South Vietnam after its fall on April 30, 1975, and embarked into that harrowing endless blue, the Pacific Ocean, in search of freedom and a better life for the future generation of Vietnamese youth.

There is so much to be proud of as a person of South Vietnamese origin. We hail from a nation of freedom, human rights, and national pride. It was South Vietnam who stood up to China in 1974, when the Chinese invaded our islands in the eastern sea. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, we fought to take them down with us, and to keep alive our claim over these islands.

South Vietnam was the elite nation of Southeast Asia, with freedom of speech, religion, association, and press, as well as the strongest economy in the region, and numerous prestigious universities that acted as host to many students studying abroad from other neighboring nations. Moreover, South Vietnam was a nation of patriots and heroes. The soldiers of South Vietnam fought to defend the country from any invader, and were not ashamed, nor afraid to proclaim their allegiance, nationality, and citizenship as to the Republic of Vietnam.

This brief article will not come even close to covering the many accomplishments and heroics of South Vietnam and its people. Instead, it will focus on one of the myriad instances of South Vietnamese courage, honor, and strength.

As a commemoration of South Vietnam and its heroes on this April 30, I will present to you a retelling of one glorious battle of the Vietnam War, one in which the South Vietnamese soldiers were, as often the case, outnumbered by a staggering concentration of North Vietnamese troops. In the face of overwhelming odds, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), under the command of their fearless leader, Brigadier General Le Van Hung, stood their ground, stared in the face of death, and, with their trademark South Vietnamese defiance and audacity, fought and crushed the North Vietnamese in what one U.S. general lauds as “the greatest victory in the history of warfare,” (Schafer, 1999: 56).

This glorious battle, this momentous victory, took place in and around the small South Vietnamese city of An Loc in the spring of 1972. Despite its magnitude and scale, historians in the west have largely ignored the An Loc battle in the decades following the war (Schafer, 1999: 53; 55). Luckily, the Battle of An Loc has been well covered by those who fought there, by both South Vietnamese and American accounts, and numerous sources have emerged since then to tell the tale. Thus, what happened at An Loc can be told to future generation, its heroes immortalized in the annals of history.

Covered in this brief account are the heroics of the ARVN, the lopsided defeat of the communist forces despite their superior numbers, and some details about the many courageous soldiers who fought there, which includes most prominently the commander of the battle, General Le Van Hung.

The Heroes of An Loc

There were many heroes at the Battle of An Loc. Some of these heroes are recognized prominently in historical accounts, but sadly, as is the reality, many, indeed, most of the soldiers who gave their lives at An Loc remain unnamed in the pages of history. As is professed so eloquently by Van Nguyen Duong, an ARVN officer who served at An Loc, that along with all the prominent names at An Loc, “all ARVN commanders of smaller units, officers, NCOs and soldiers at An-Loc and on Route 13, were heroes,” (Duong, 2008: 160).

These famous names mentioned by Duong include Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Minh, commander of the III Corps & Region, Colonel Le Quang Luong, commander of the 1st Airborne Brigade, and, of course, Brigadier General Le Van Hung, field commander of An Loc and the commander of the ARVN 5th Infantry Division (Duong, 2008: 160). General Hung commanded all of the ARVN forces at An Loc (Duong, 2008: 150). Under him, the South Vietnamese would achieve an overwhelming victory over the communist North Vietnamese, in a battle that, despite being ignored by the west, as it did not fit their antiwar narrative, was larger than the Dien Binh Phu confrontation between the Viet Minh and the French in 1954 (Duong, 2008: 148). For his services at that battle, General Le Van Hung would be lauded in history as the Hero of An Loc (Duong, 2008: 211).

There is no mistake that there were many heroes in the Battle of An Loc. Though they cannot all be named in this brief article, it is important to understand that thousands of South Vietnamese soldiers gave their lives in defense of An Loc, and the defense of South Vietnam, its people, and its ideals. When we remember the great and prominent names in history, we must remember the unnamed soldier as well.

The Battle of An Loc

The Battle of An Loc was initiated by the North Vietnamese, and consisted of three communist assaults in the spring of 1972. The first attack commenced on April 11, the second on April 15, and the last on May 11, 1972 (Lester, 2010: 56). The An Loc confrontation was part of a greater North Vietnamese military campaign, known as the Easter Offensive of 1972, which began on March 30 of that year (Lester, 2010: 56). This ambitious military operation, orchestrated by North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap (Lester, 2010: 56), was aimed at quickly ending the war with a swift capture of Saigon (McDermott, 2012: 3).

The entire North Vietnamese military operation stretched into the summer of 1972, and proved to be an abject failure for the communists. In history, this “disastrous end of the communist Summer 1972 Offensive Campaign in South Vietnam” came to be known as “Red Summer 1972,” (Duong, 2008: 161). The Battle of An Loc is a major part of this communist failure, and South Vietnamese triumph.

At An Loc, the South Vietnamese forces, which consisted of only 7,500 troops, would stand their ground in the face of 21,000 North Vietnamese invaders and ultimately win the fight against the communists (Lester, 2010: 56).

The North Vietnamese forces encircled the city of An Loc on April 6, with South Vietnamese and U.S. bombing NVA positions commencing on April 11 (Lester, 2010: 56). It was during this phase that the North Vietnamese attackers shelled the city with artillery, while their ground enforces approached the city using civilians as human shields (Thi, 2009: 83-84). In response to this barbaric communist tactic, South Vietnamese and U.S. defenders had to operate around the civilians, shooting over and behind the hostages, and causing the hostages to scatter “in all directions” before finding refugee in An Loc. The hostages would be settled into temporary refugee camps by the South Vietnamese government (Thi, 2009: 84). It is important to stress here the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians by the North Vietnamese, who, over a course of several days, killed several hundred innocent civilians with their shelling attacks, “the majority” of these civilians “were women and children,” (Duong, 2008: 151).

Throughout the first phase of the An Loc battle, communist NVA units and tanks were quickly overrunning different sectors of the city. However, their initial advances would be pushed back by the ARVN, with major help from South Vietnamese and U.S. air support. Initially overwhelmed by the communist onslaught, the young ARVN soldiers and members of the PSDF (People’s Self-Defense Force) would recover and fight back against the NVA, actively hunting down and destroying the tanks of the North Vietnamese that were steadily rolling around the city (Thi, 2009: 89-90). In the air, the VNAF and the USAF bombed North Vietnamese positions to effectively weaken the enemy’s formations around the perimeter, while the “more versatile and maneuverable Cobra attack helicopters” handled the communist tanks inside the city (Thi, 2009: 89-90). By April 13, the ARVN held the southern sector, while the NVA held the north of An Loc. According to Lam Quang Thi, “The battle subsided somewhat by the evening of April 13 without a clear line of contact,” (2009: 97).

On April 15, the communists launched their second attack of the Battle of An Loc (Lester, 2010: 56). The onslaught consisted of once again shelling An Loc with intense amounts or artillery, as well as repeating their previous tactic of using tanks to push deeper into the city (Thi, 2009: 100-101). While the more than “1,000 artillery rounds of all calibers” devastated the city, the tanks deployed by the North Vietnamese were quickly targeted and eviscerated by the ARVN units, who learned quickly from their experiences in the first phase of An Loc (Thi, 2009: 100-101). The South Vietnamese, under General Hung, then went on the offensive.

In the evening of April 15, communists in Wendy Hill were attacked and overrun by ARVN forces. The 9th Division of the VC in the northern sector of the city was then confronted by the ARVN on April 17, and by dawn of April 18, “ninety percent of this commercial section was recaptured,” (Duong, 2008: 154-55). From this point onward, street to street fighting would endure for the next few weeks in An Loc (Duong, 2008: 155).

The communists would try to reverse their fortunes in these faltering offensive efforts, which, up to that point, were all ending in failure (Duong, 2008: 155). Concentrating a staggering 10,000 troops, 5,000 rounds of artillery, and twenty tanks, the NVA attacked the South Vietnamese at Wendy Hill and Hill 169. With initial short-lived successes, the ferocious and heavy communist onslaught would ultimately be crushed like their previous attempts. Over the course of three days, April 19-21, the North Vietnamese would lose 2,000 troops and all twenty tanks, rendering them unable to launch their third offensive for the next three weeks, all the while “unable to advance on inch” against the ARVN and General Hung (Duong, 2008: 155-56). During this hiatus, the North Vietnamese continued to fire indiscriminately into An Loc “nearly 2,000 rounds a day from heavy artillery guns,” killing not only some defenders, but also the civilian residents of An Loc (Duong, 2008: 156).

Finally, the last offensive launched by the communists in the Battle of An Loc happened on May 11, and was the largest NVA attack to be thrown against the city (Lester, 2010: 56). This third offensive by the North Vietnamese was “the most devastating” concentration of artillery shelling by the communists throughout the entire Vietnam War (Duong, 2008: 156).

The massive communist assault on May 11 saw the launching of 11,000 rounds of artillery at An Loc, nearly leveling the entire city, with only the “iron morale of the defenders” standing strong (Duong, 2008: 156). However, despite the heavy artillery shelling and their attacking of the defenders on every front, the communists did not change their tactics, and thus, in this third and largest assault, their troops and tanks were again slaughtered and crushed by the South Vietnamese and their U.S. allies (Duong, 2008: 156). Although the attack lasted until May 14, the brunt of the communist attack was repelled by mid-day of May 11, with the failure of the NVA troops to capture any of their objectives. All the NVA had to show as a result were their “Panicked” communist troops fleeing from VNAF and U.S. airstrikes, and “all forty tanks” from the communists laying “dead on the battlefield,” (Lester, 2010: 156).

By May 14, the third phase of the North Vietnamese attempt to capture An Loc was completely and utterly defeated by South Vietnam with the help of U.S. air support. The losses incurred by the North Vietnamese were so enormous that another attack was no longer possible (Duong, 2008: 157). Thus, the worst fighting of the battle at An Loc was over. The ARVN had won, and the communists had lost.

The following month saw the ARVN carry out search and destroy operations in and around An Loc to clear the area of communist presence, a task made much easier with the help of U.S. air support (Duong, 2008: 157-58). By the latter portion of May, the majority of communist anti-air defenses were eliminated from the vicinity of An Loc, and in the early part of June, helicopters were able to land for medivac and resupplying (Lester, 2010: 56).

The victory of the South Vietnamese would be marked on the afternoon of June 12, with the raising of the national flag at the top of Dong-Long Hill. The President of South Vietnam, Nguyen Van Thieu, would fly to An Loc on July 7, 1972 “to honor the ARVN heroes who had fought the biggest battle of the Vietnam War,” (Duong, 2008: 158).

The Significance of An Loc

The Battle of An Loc was the biggest battle of the Vietnam War, an engagement in which the allied forces of South Vietnam and U.S. air support crushed the invading forces of the North Vietnamese. As shown earlier in the article, the North Vietnamese outnumbered the South Vietnamese threefold, with a mere 7,500 South Vietnamese defenders up against 21,000 communist invaders. Despite these odds, and to not underplay the substantial help of U.S. air support, the South Vietnamese were able to hold An Loc against the invaders, dealing staggering blows to the communists. By the measures of former ARVN officer Van Nguyen Duong, the North Vietnamese lost five times more than the South Vietnamese overall in the Easter Offensive, with a large portion of these losses coming from An Loc (Duong, 2008: 159). At An Loc alone, communist losses amounted to 6,500 dead, compared to 2,300 South Vietnamese killed in action (Lester, 2010: 56).

In the words of George J. Veith, “the heroic defense of An Loc in 1972 had been the most glorious South Vietnamese feat of arms of the war,” (Veith, 2012: 257). For all its glory, An Loc is by no means the only momentous victory achieved by the ARVN. At Kontum, as well as Quang Tri, and in the entire failed communist Easter Offensive, the North Vietnamese forces were not only “convincingly defeated,” but at times “badly mauled” by the South Vietnamese (Thi, 2009: 220). This point is raised here for the purpose of demonstrating the effectiveness of the ARVN as a fighting force, and to dispute the longstanding fallacy that South Vietnam’s armed forces were built of cowards, deserters, and incompetents.

Adding to this point of unfair treatment of South Vietnam by the U.S. media, it will be pointed out here that, despite the scale of the battle and the significance of its victory, the Battle of An Loc was largely ignored by the western media (Thi, 2009: 2). Reason for this omission comes from the fact that admitting to the fighting mettle of the ARVN and victory at “An Loc would contradict the U.S. media’s basic premise that the war cannot be won because the ARVN was a corrupt and ineffective fighting force,” (Thi, 2009: 5). In short, the media tried to weave a false narrative to slander the ARVN and South Vietnam throughout the entire war, and in so doing, refused to acknowledge the victory at An Loc (and every other South Vietnam victory, for that matter) because it would expose the media for the lie they have been cultivating for so long.

An Loc is not only a momentous and glorious victory against Communism, it is a reminder to the liberal media of the lies they have told to the American people for decades. Furthermore, the study of the Battle of An Loc is a stepping-stone for the gradual correction of biased media coverage of the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s. The lies that the leftists told during the Vietnam War era endured for decades following the war. It is only late in the last decade that the truth has begun to come out. In time, with more studies from the perspective of the South Vietnamese, a more balanced understanding of the Vietnam War will eventually emerge, and the deception of the leftist media will be brought to light, in all of its shame and disgust. In time, the courage, honor, and sacrifice of the South Vietnamese people will find its rightful place in history. Coverage of An Loc is just the beginning.

In the context of the war itself, An Loc is significant for a number of reasons. If An Loc were to fall to the communists, “Saigon would be shaken and Vietnamization would fail,” and so in order to save the war effort, to save South Vietnam, it was “of vital importance” to save An Loc (Duong, 2008: 153). Furthermore, as has already been mentioned, the victory at An Loc is damning evidence of the capability of the ARVN as a fighting force, despite what the leftist media tried to lead the world to think for decades. The South Vietnamese were brave, capable, and extremely deadly fighters, and, among the many examples of this fact, An Loc shines as one of the brightest. To conclude this portion of the essay, I will include a quote by Mike McDermott, a former U.S. paratrooper who served in Vietnam, and at An Loc:

“We who served with Advisory Team 163 will never forget our Vietnamese paratrooper brothers. They demonstrated a special kind of dedication and courage throughout the long years of the war that, for them, started in 1946 and ended in 1975. They were consistently tough and resilient no matter the odds they faced, the support they received, or their battlefield prospects… I pledged myself to a righteous cause… I and so many others were betrayed by the American government,” (McDermott, 2012: 4).

General Hung, the Hero of An Loc

Brigadier General Le Van Hung was the main commander who led the South Vietnamese in the fight at An Loc. While there were many heroes at An Loc, the scope of this essay will only be able to cover one, and who more fitting than the man who, under impossible odds, stood his ground, rallied his troops, and led the ARVN charge to victory in what some laud as the most important campaign of the Vietnam War (Schafer, 1999: 56).

In his account, Lam Quang Thi describes the sentiments of the ARVN soldiers towards General Hung, who is regarded highly by his soldiers, and viewed as the man who “undoubtedly” held together the “fabric” of An Loc’s defense against the extensively larger enemy forces (2009: 209). By the accounts of the ARVN soldiers who served under him, as well as the U.S. personnel who advised him, General Hung was a man who “never buckled,” was “always calm under pressure,” and “never panicked and was in full control of the situation,” (Thi, 2009: 2010).

Adding to this, and based on the findings, I will present the argument that General Hung was a courageous and fearless leader who was not afraid to die for his country and his soldiers. One fascinating display of dogged courage by General Hung and the ARVN took place during the first phase of the communist invasion on April 12, while the North was still on the attack in An Loc. As an NVA tank approached his command post, General Hung grabbed a grenade and prepared to throw it at the tank outside his bunker, before his fellow ARVN soldier, Col. Le Nguyen Vy, “emerged from the underground bunker,” shot a rocket at the tank and destroyed it himself (Thi, 2009: 89). A South Vietnamese television reporter, who covered the entire An Loc battle, recalled that during this confrontation, as the enemy tanks drew closer to his position, General Hung assured his staff that he will not let himself be captured alive, and gave them instructions on what to do should he need to commit suicide (Thi, 2009: 89).

Several days prior on April 9, when he was too busy to meet three South Vietnamese war reporters, he relayed a message to them via one of his men: “I will defend An Loc to the death, I will never come out of the city alive, if I lose it,” (Duong, 2008: 152). In the words of Thi, “Hung’s vow to his men that he would never be taken alive had galvanized the spirits of the defenders during the darkest hours of the siege,” (Thi, 2009: 209). His courage, determination, and leadership would give his soldiers the strength, not only to prevail, but to crush the communist invasion, by staggering margins. It is because of his courage that General Le Van Hung would be known in history as the Hero of An Loc.

General Hung vowed that he would never be captured alive by the communists, and, as is shown by the tragic end to the Vietnam War, he was a man of his word. To the very end, General Hung kept his promise, to his country, to his soldiers, and to his people.

On April 30, 1975, upon receiving word that the new president of South Vietnam, Duong Van Minh, had agreed to surrender to the communist North Vietnamese, General Le Van Hung killed himself (Duong, 2008: 220). With nothing more he can do, after giving everything he could possibly give for his country, General Hung did the only thing he could do, and that was to give his life in honor of his nation.

General Hung was not the only person who committed suicide that day. Four other high-ranking South Vietnamese military leaders, Major General Nguyen Khoa Nam, Brigadier General Tran Van Hai, Brigadier General Le Nguyen Vy, and Major General Pham Van Phu, had all taken their lives that day (Duong, 2008: 220). Furthermore, many other high-ranking commanders, air force officers, low-ranking officers, NCOs, and even enlisted soldiers chose to die with their country on that Black April Day (Veith, 2012: 496; Duong, 2008: 220). Rather “than escape or prison,” (Veith, 2012: 496), and “With dignity, they sacrificed their lives for the honor of their land, regime, and army,” (2008: 220). Le Van Hung, along with these soldiers, and so many others, represents the courage, honor, and sacrifice of the nation of South Vietnam. We must never forget.

Closing Statement

South Vietnam was a nation of freedom, human rights, and national defense. Moreover, South Vietnam was a nation of heroes and patriots. On this day, April 30, 2017, we remember the fallen nation, its brave soldiers, and its people. We are proud to hail from that nation of South Vietnam.

Always and forever, we will carry on its legacy.

 

Sources:

Duong, Van Nguyen. The Tragedy of the Vietnam War: A South Vietnamese Officer’s Analysis. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2008.

Lester, Gary. Review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Offensive and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam, by Lam Quang Thi. Air Power History (2010): 56.

McDermott, Mike. True Faith and Allegiance: An American Paratrooper and the 1972 Battle for An Loc. Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press. 2012.

Schafer, John C. “Phan Nhat Nam and the Battle of An Loc.” Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 13 (1999): 53-75.

Thi, Lam Quang. Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Offensive and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam. Denton: University of North Texas Press. 2009.

Veith, George J. Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam 1973-1975. New York: Encounter Books. 2012.

 

Here’s Some Artwork/Wallpaper for the Coming Black April Day

Posted in Art, Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2017 by Ian Pham

FFVN Main

Hello all.

I generally don’t like making promises ahead of time, but in this case, I’ll make a exception. The promise is that I will be making a post for this coming Black April Day, April 30, 2017. It’s kind of a given, since that day is monumentally significant to us Vietnamese people. However, I am going to verify it here, and say that yes, there will indeed be an article written and published for Black April Day 2017.

In the meantime, here is some artwork that you can put as your laptop’s background wallpaper, or have it as your profile picture on Facebook or wherever else on social media, or simply save it just because.

The pictures are self-explanatory. They are commemorative and honoring of the fallen nation of South Vietnam, and all of the men and women who gave their lives fighting for that nation’s freedom, against the Communist North, and against the Chinese. At least there was one Vietnamese nation in modern history that had the gull to stand up to the Chinese, am I right? That nation was South Vietnam, by the way, for all my friends who haven’t connected the dots.

Well, without further ado, here are the artworks, which come in two languages: English and Vietnamese.

Enjoy.

#1: “Never Forget”

April A

#2: “Never Forget (Vietnamese)”

April B

#3: “We Remember”

April C

#4: “We Remember (Vietnamese)”

April D

If you like, use one (or more) of these as your profile picture on your social media accounts and/or share with your friends and family as a way to commemorate and spread awareness about April 30 and its significance to the overseas Vietnamese communities.

Cheers.

 

UPDATE:

To access the artwork on Facebook, click here!

A Brief Remark on this 43rd Anniversary of the Battle of Hoang Sa

Posted in Modern History, Opinions, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 19, 2017 by Ian Pham

ffvn-instagram

Photo via instagram (freedomforvietnam)

Hello All,

I don’t have too much time to chat. Here is a brief statement regarding this 43rd anniversary of the January 19, 1974 naval confrontation between us (South Vietnam) and the invaders (China).

Via Freedom For Vietnam’s instagram:

Today, January 19, 2017, marks the 43rd anniversary of the battle of the Paracel islands. This battle was a clash between South Vietnam and the invading People’s Republic of China.

On the morning of January 19, 1974, after days of fruitless attempts to engage in dialogue with the intruding Chinese naval forces around Vietnam’s islands, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu authorized the South Vietnamese Navy to open fire on the Chinese forces. The ensuing battle lasted for about a half an hour, and caused significant damage to both sides. South Vietnam, then embroiled in war with the North Vietnamese, exhausted its naval capabilities in this brief confrontation with China.

As a result, China would overrun the Paracel islands in the days following the battle, and remain occupiers of that territory to this day.

Every year, we remember this day, and commemorate the South Vietnamese soldiers who gave their lives to protect Vietnam’s sovereignty over our islands in the eastern sea. It is because of them that the phrase “Paracel and Spratly belong to Vietnam” carries so much weight.

The courage, honor, and sacrifice of the South Vietnamese soldiers must never be forgotten.

Photo source:
http://vnafmamn.com/VietnamNavy_history.html

Lest we forget.

 

 

Follow ‘Freedom For Vietnam’ on Instagram

Posted in Announcements, Art with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2017 by Ian Pham

ffvn-instagramImage by: Ian Pham / Freedom For Vietnam

Good news! As readers of Freedom For Vietnam, you can now follow this blog on Instagram.

The Freedom For Vietnam Instagram account was put into Beta testing a little earlier than last year (if by Beta testing, one means creating an account, not telling anyone about it, and then forgetting that it exists for the next 12 months), and is now ready to be officially unveiled to the public.

On top of providing you top quality content via this blog, Freedom For Vietnam will now be able to stay in touch with its readers through the magic of sharing pictures and emojis and stuff. Not only can you communicate with me by commenting on this blog like always, you can now also communicate with me through the Instagram photos’ comments section, try to slide into my DMs, and then have me not reply to your messages. It’ll be a grand old time!

Jokes aside, I am very excited to implement this new Instagram feature. I have some plans in store for you all, in terms of original social media content, which I will gradually unveil as they become ready. Moreover, I will be sharing existing quality content both from around the web and elsewhere, thus creating an amalgamation of personal and outside works, all as a means to exemplify the beauty and sophistication of Vietnamese history and culture. Hopefully, you will find the material enjoyable, educational, and inspirational.

If you have not seen the account yet, here is a rundown of what you’ve missed so far:

 

This beautiful and iconic photo was taken by Benjamin Vu on April 30, 2010 at Westminster, California, USA. Known among Vietnamese communities overseas as "Black April," April 30 is a day of commemoration for the fall of the nation of South Vietnam to the Communist North. Every year, on the 30th of April, Vietnamese communities across the free world gather to remember the former Republic of Vietnam, the brave soldiers who gave their lives in defense of the nation and its ideals of freedom and democracy, and the refugees who fled South Vietnam in the wake of the communist takeover and thereafter, in search of a better life. The year 2010 marks the 35th anniversary of Black April and the fall of Saigon. According to the photographer, the woman in the photo was in attendance at the memorial event in California, and was standing next to this Heritage and Freedom flag for a very long time. #Freedom #Memorial #SouthVietnam #Woman #Flag #Beauty #Photography #BlackApril #NoFilter (Via https://flic.kr/p/7XBtuA)

A post shared by Freedom For Vietnam (@freedomforvietnam) on

 

 

 

This is just the start.

Furthermore, just in case you are one of the people who stumbled upon this account within the past year, and had questions about its authenticity, your fears can now be alleviated. This account is legitimate, it is real, and is the official Instagram account of this here Freedom For Vietnam blog.

So, if you have a minute, pay a quick visit to the freedomforvietnam Instagram page above, give it a follow, like some pictures, make some comments, and tell your friends, families, and acquaintances. The more word gets out and the more followers this account receives, the farther our message of freedom will reach. We have an opportunity, not only to connect with the many vast Vietnamese communities all over the world, including within Vietnam, but also to reach everyone else at large, in all communities across the world.

I look forward to continuing to write for you all on here, and am now excited to provide you with awesome content in other social media outlets as well. Thank you so much for your continued support, words cannot describe the gratitude I have for all of you readers. Thank you!

Happy 2017, everyone. See you on Instagram.  🙂 ❤ 😀

What Jovie From the Movie “Elf” Taught Me About Courage and Leadership

Posted in Film, Music, Opinions, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2016 by Ian Pham

zooey-deschanel-in-elfImage via Fanpop

This is going to be a bit of a stretch, but I’ll give it a shot anyways.

First off, if you haven’t seen the movie “Elf,” there are going to be some spoilers ahead. Secondly, if you haven’t seen the movie “Elf,” you should do yourself a favor and check it out ASAP. Chances are high (basically 100%) that some channel on TV is playing it right now, as we speak, as I type this article, and then actually right now, as you read this article. It’s an incredible movie, full of laughs and whimsy and Will Ferrell being Will Ferrell at his comedic best.

I won’t give too much of the movie away, but there is one scene in the film where Buddy the Elf’s (Ferrell) love interest Jovie (played by Zooey Deschanel) steps up on a carriage and sings in front of a mob of people in Central Park. Her purpose in doing this is to bring up New York’s Christmas spirit so that Santa, Buddy, and the reindeers can follow through with their mission to save Christmas. It’s a zany, lighthearted, and adorable film that will surely either cheer you up or make your day even brighter than it already is.

Here’s the scene I am talking about. Give it a watch, and I will follow up with the discussion shortly after. But, before you press play, remember: SPOILERS are contained in the clip.

Pretty cute, right?

I won’t get too deep into the politics that I usually talk about, but I do want to point out this simple message that I received from this adorable movie: It only takes one brave voice to make something happen. It only takes one voice to start a change.

If you read this site often, you already know where I’m going with this.

And yes, I know it’s not as easy as I’m making it sound right now. Singing a song in the middle of Saigon or Hanoi won’t make the communist regime fall just like that. It’ll take more than a song to bring down the totalitarian communist dictatorship and bring freedom to Vietnam.

However, what I want to say is that if you are someone who has something to say to the communists in Vietnam, then go for it. It may not be as simple as singing a song to raise Christmas spirit for Santa’s sleigh, but, and I’m talking real life now, if you have a message that you believe people need to hear, if you want to speak out against the communists, then use your voice to break the silence.

Zooey Deschanel’s scene in “Elf” is just a lighthearted musical number in a fun comedy movie, but to me, it is a beautiful illustration of the idea that, with just one brave voice, something extraordinary can happen. One person with the courage to step up, speak up, and be the guiding light that leads a movement to accomplish something incredible and magical. In “Elf,” this incredible thing is saving Christmas, in our real world, it is saving Vietnam from Communism, and bringing freedom, democracy, and human rights to Vietnam.

In this real life scenario, Vietnam is our Christmas, and Jovie, that voice that breaks the silence, is a person we have not met yet, but is definitely out there somewhere.

To the Jovie of Vietnam, if you’re reading this, the world is waiting for you. Raise your voice, take a chance, and make something incredible happen. You can do it. Believe in yourself.

Well, that’s my motivational speech this Christmas.

Hopefully you’re all doing well, and, while I may not always have the time to write on here as much as I want to, my thoughts are always with you, and with Vietnam. I wish I got paid to write on here, but hey, you can’t get everything you ask for. Still, though, a guy can dream, right?

Merry Christmas, everybody. Happy Holidays, and have a Happy New Year!

See you in 2017.

Ian Pham.