Summit Leaders Reflect on April 30th

Andy H. Nguyen, Tarrant County Commissioner, Texas:

“April 30, 2011 marks exactly 36 years since the Fall of the Republic of Vietnam. I was eight years old then and witnessed my father being held at gun point. The first generation of Vietnamese Americans had done all that they could for our families and communities; now it is our turn to lead. Please pray for us so we may have the wisdom to chart the right path and the courage to lead the way. The National Summit of Vietnamese American Leaders in Washington, DC on July 2nd this year is a new rally point for a brighter future. The choice is yours and mine. I hope to see you at the Summit.”


Lieutenant Commander Chris Phan, United States Navy JAG Corps:

“From darkness and despair, we have light and hope.  Like the phoenix, we rise from the ashes to forge a strong and united future, free of tyranny and oppression.  We must build on our accomplishments to form a better tomorrow for our children, community, and country.  United we stand!”


Ann Hoang, Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs, Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association

"I did not have to endure the struggles my parents and other family members went through.  Most of my knowledge is based on stories my parents shared with my siblings and I.  They have kept alive these stories to let us know that they took the first difficult steps in getting us to a land of freedom.  They have provided us with the tools (education and knowledge) and environment (United States) to enable us to have the ability to achieve the American dream and to raise our own children with courage and a boldness for the future.  That future is up to us, and I believe that personal responsibility is important in building our limitless future.

The Summit is a great opportunity to connect with one another from all over the country.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the hard working people who have contributed to this Summit.  The more united we are the stronger we grow. We are seen as the silent citizens.  We go about building our businesses and raising our families.  At times, we have not engaged with local, state, and national issues.  Many times we complain about how things are wrong, but we do not take part in the process to fix it.  I am involved in the political empowerment track because I want to make a difference, and I want to encourage others to participate in the political process.  Most importantly, I want the Vietnamese Community to have a voice in the policy making at every level of government.  This is our home.  We need to be represented and make stronger communities for our families."


Tino Dinh, MBA, businessman, United States Air Force veteran

"Every April 30th, for the last 36 years, our community has commemorated this day with solemn mourning and reflection on the fall of Republic of  Vietnam, the war dead, and the refugee’s plight. We honor and memorilize the sacrifices made, both in war time and in the difficult years that followed---eternally enshrining our parents’ generation in our collective memory as our own ‘Greatest Generation’.

...We cannot forget our history. But let us not be burdened by it. In 2011 let us stop thinking about ourselves as the victims of fate but instead as the makers of our own destiny. Are we an ‘exile community’, forever in mourning? Or are overseas Vietnamese like a lotus blossom, rising from the mud..a phoenix, rising from the ashes?

Trust in this new generation of young Vietnamese. Trust that they carry the values their parents have taught them. And trust that they have the ideas, the energy, and the passion to ignite the world and the history books with the greatness of our people."


Nancy Nguyen, MBA, entrepreneur, Ms. Corporate America 2011

"I was born in a crowded refugee camp in the Philippines. My family escaped communist Vietnam as boat people refugees and eventually reached U.S. shores, and through hard work and determination we have built our lives as entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur, I am both grateful and excited to participate in this first National Summit of Vietnamese American Leaders. The Summit offers emerging and established leaders from various fields a rare opportunity to gather our thoughts and ideas and engage in common initiatives to develop our community and ensure opportunities of success for many others.  I also proudly stand with fellow leaders in various disciplines to celebrate this momentous anniversary of America's Spirit of Liberty on Independence Day.  I look forward to meeting and working with other Vietnamese Americans who have created opportunities through their entrepreneurial endeavors. Together, we can develop projects and structures to fuel economic empowerment for our community and contribute to the economic growth in the United States."


Hong Pham, Vice-President of HSBC Bank, Executive Director of Vietnamese American National Chamber of Commerce

"I personally don't think of April 30th as the only day to remember our losses and the hardships the Vietnamese people endured to seek freedom. I am reminded of the price of freedom everyday through witnessing how my parents & their generation started rebuilding their lives from scratch and the sacrifices they went through to provide for us. I have never been a fan of participating in the community ceremonies taking place on this day because all events seem to focus on the war and the past.

I prefer to look toward to the future, even in my mourning of the loss of our country.  I think turning this tragic experience into an opportunity to help the people who were left behind to regain their dignity and build a better life is more meaningful than focusing on who we once were or if we should overturn the current communist regime.   The Leadership Summit gives me hope that we may be able to work together to build our community's collective strengths and develop future leaders to continue our legacy. Then we can look forward with strong faith that we will have a positive influence on the lives of those who are left behind in a very near future."



Van Tran, attorney, former California Assemblyman

"April 30, 1975 is a date that has seared into the collective memory of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese Americans who were old enough to understand its political and personal significance.  It is a date of infamy whereby the oppression of communism has so completely engulfed the people and country of Vietnam.  The date also marked the starting point of a worldwide Diaspora of the Vietnamese people, not necessarily by choice, but because of the unfortunate outcome of the Vietnam War.  The date represents the beginning of a continuing trail of immigration for millions of Vietnamese who risked their lives in search of freedom and a brighter future for their family.


After 36 years resettling in America, the Vietnamese community understands that it possesses a "political" I.D., driven here by political circumstances, and not economics.  As generations of Vietnamese assimilate into mainstream American society, it is only a matter of time that we, too, need to mobilize, organize and unite to speak with one voice on the issues we care most.  Numerous immigrant communities that have settled in America before the Vietnamese have contributed to this country in so many wonderful ways.  It is part of the great assimilation process in a free and law abiding nation.  The Vietnamese community is the latest group to take the same path of civic education and empowerment.  Through this first summit in Washington, D.C. this July, Vietnamese Americans from all parts of the nation will come together to find their political voice for this emerging community.  It is a commendable goal.  As the newest Americans, we have the duty to participate in and contribute to the civic life of this nation.  This summit will provide a national forum for us to work together, share in our life experience, and build a better future for our community and our country."


Linh Thai, Founder of the Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute in Seattle, Washington

"April 30th, 1975 defined the Vietnamese American's experience.  A new cultural, social and political identity forged out of civil war and ideological conflict that in many ways still has deep impacts in the body and mind of the Vietnamese American communities across the United States.  For me, it shaped my realities, brought clarities to my hopes and desires, and helped determine my life goals and purpose for thirty-six years and counting.  Fundamentally, it taught me the true values of freedom and what one must be willing to commit in order to preserve and defend it; it taught me what compassion and courage mean; it made me aware and connect ever closer to the Vietnamese heritage.  The collective experience of its aftermath continues to humble me, nurture me, and empower me to move forward, to step out and stand up for social justice, not only for the Vietnamese people but also but for peoples around the world."


What are your thoughts on this special day in Vietnamese American history?

And what do you expect from this Summit?

Email them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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