Immigrants make Boston great
Recently, while listening to several Vietnamese-American youngsters who were celebrating the Vietnamese New Year, Tet, I got the opportunity to hear many topics of concern to themselves and their families.
They stressed education as being of the highest priority. Many of their parents came to the United States from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in April 1975, a very chaotic time for millions of families there. Nuns, priests and thousands of civic-oriented citizens, including soldiers in the South Vietnamese Army, were imprisoned by the communist government. I spoke to one Vietnamese-American dad at the event who spent nine years in prison because he served defending the Republic of Vietnam, before coming to America. His daughter is Massachusetts State Rep. Tram Nguyen.
I also spent considerable time with an officer in the Vietnamese Army who described the brutality they experienced at the hands of the communist North Vietnam military. I was telling them how I became friends with a Catholic bishop from Saigon whom I worked with at the Vatican who had been tortured and served more than 12 years in solitary confinement in a communist prison. I met several courageous people like him over the years who later became productive American citizens. Boston became home to the strongest and largest Vietnamese-American community in the United States with a population of over 50,000 people, many of whom moved into the Dorchester neighborhood.
The organizers of the giant “Tet in Boston” event at the Raymond L. Flynn Cruiseport in the Seaport presented me with their Outstanding Humanitarian Award for providing hope and opportunity for many Vietnamese refugees when they fled oppression and first came to Boston in the early 1980s. The people of the city of Boston welcomed the new arrivals and treated them with respect.
In accepting the award from its leaders, I told them the Vietnamese people have made an enormous contribution to the stability of the United States. They have worked hard, raised wonderful children and respected our laws. I was proud to appoint the first Vietnamese-American police officer and other important officials of key city departments, including the mayor’s office.
I was so impressed with the appreciation they expressed for American military servicemen who fought and died during the war against the ruthless communist North Vietnamese military.
As Mayor Walsh said, “We are a city of immigrants who together make our city and history special.”