Those forgotten from the war in Vietnam

This is a clip from a new documentary about the plight of Amerasian children left behind in the Philippines. This is also a similar story for the Vietnamese Amerasians and Amerasians from other countries as well.

Servicemen are either stationed in many of  these Asian countries or are there for a brief visit. During this time intimate relations occur between the soldiers and the women of these countries. In many cases children are born due to these visits and then are left behind without a father to endure many hardships. These incidents are not isolated or rare occurrences.

Although there are many servicemen who have developed loving relationships and have acknowledged their responsibility toward their own children, many have not. These innocent children grow up without having a father and experience much shame, stigma, and discrimination for being an interracial child. Those with African-American descent or darker skin experience this even more.

In the case of Vietnam, there were some loving relationships and not all women were prostitutes or bar girls. This is a myth and stereotype. My parents are a good example. In fact they were married in Vietnam during my father’s second tour. He met her while she was working at an American mess hall serving food and as a maid. For those who were prostitutes and bar girls- so what? They are still people who all too often are victims of poverty and other unfortunate circumstances to begin with. It would be easy to dehumanize and demonize the women as an act of justification.

Sometimes during the war in Vietnam people genuinely got separated and were unable to reunite. I hold no judgement from that time period. I understand as in the case of Vietnam for some, being young especially during wartime, lends itself toward living in the moment and not always thinking ahead with making the best choices.

I know there were some Vietnam Veterans who didn’t even know they had a child. For those who did know, many had no idea how to find them again. There are Veterans who have tried to search for their kids. Some actually found them.

My experience of being Amerasian in this country was not a positive one. I was discriminated against not only by some youth, but some adults. I was told in the United States I did not belong in this country and to go back to “my county”. I also had some adults use physical aggression toward me. Some in the Vietnamese community were also discriminative.

I felt ashamed for being from Vietnam, for being Cambodian Vietnamese, and for being Amerasian. Today it is different. I embrace being Amerasian and I’m proud of it. Despite what I experienced I still consider myself the fortunate one and am truly proud of my American Vietnam Veteran father.

I have worked hard to bridge the gap with the rest of the community about Vietnam Veterans. I proposed and advocated for a Vietnam Veteran’s Day in my state, organized many events and platforms for them to come together and share their stories, and am part of a coalition of states advocating for a national recognition. All across the nation Vietnam Veterans have been receiving their long-awaited proper acknowledgment after 40 some years. I support this whole- heartedly. You may possibly find this hard to believe since I am writing about this topic. There were many victims of the war in Vietnam, and yes the American soldiers as well. There was “good and bad” that took place from every end. When I bring awareness to Vietnam Veterans, I bring awareness to Veterans like my Vietnam Veteran father whose intention of going to Vietnam was to do good. There were many honorable men like him as well. For those who made past mistakes of ignoring their responsibilities regarding this issue, many are also trying to make things right today. Many of the Vietnam Veterans I’ve talked to are embarrassed and ashamed whether or are embarrassed by their fellow Veteran who did. Many G.I.s from the Vietnam War Era have contacted me asking for help to find their child or possible child. Of course there are those who simply want to forget. However, I’ve always said and truly believe that this whole thing regarding the war in Vietnam can not truly come full circle until everyone that has been affected by the war in Vietnam and their stories have actually been acknowledged.

I feel for the other Amerasians  as well. Although from different countries, we are all the children of servicemen.

Many Amerasians who have been able to reside in the land of our fathers have focused on moving ahead with our lives. We have worked hard, become leaders in our communities, and been successful in our lives. All we want now is to not only be able to tell our stories, but especially the stories of those less fortunate Amerasian children of American Servicemen.

On the flip side- watch powerful reunion of this father with his Filipino Amerasian daughter.

What are your thoughts? What responsibility should our Government have? What about the government of the Philippines or other countries with this similar issue? What is the solution to this issue in preventing other tragic stories in the future?