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Letters to the Editor: I escaped Saigon in 1975. Here’s my message to refugees and Afghanistan veterans

To the editor: It was April 22, 1975, the day my mother, my sister and I escaped Vietnam. At the airport, mobs of people were screaming, waving to soldiers, scaling the fences, crying and pleading to get past the checkpoint.

I’ll never forget this moment. Right before the three of us started walking toward the checkpoint, my mom stopped, kneeled, looked at my sister and me and with an extremely stern expression said to us, “Whatever you do, do not let go of my hand!” At the checkpoint my mom took out our expedition papers (personally signed by Henry Kissinger) in order to get us out; the man sitting behind the table looked at them and waved us through.

As we walked toward the airport entrance and past the fencing, I looked back to see all the pleading faces left behind, hearing their desperate cries slowly dissipate. Eventually a quiet enveloped us, replacing the chaos with a sense of calm and hope. We were about to get on a plane for the United States.

I fell asleep on the flight and woke up as we landed in San Francisco. We still weren’t at our final destination, as we had to take another flight to Maine. But I don’t remember that flight, because as far as I was concerned, being in America was all that mattered.

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For all the Vietnam veterans out there who served, know that there are many Vietnamese who were given a new life and are forever grateful for your sacrifices, which meant everything to us. I am quite certain the Afghan refugees who’ve been given a second chance are just as grateful to the Afghanistan war veterans.

They were different wars, but both were just as meaningful. Thank you.

Son Vo, Santa Monica

For more videos in our Hear Me Out Series, visit latimes.com/letters.


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