To the Communist Party's Politburo in Hanoi:
California, April 30, 2005
From America to Vietnam, from the depths of the heart of an American citizen who once was a teenage refugee, I ask you to consider refunding the ten dollars (or an approximate equivalent to Vietnamese currency) that you have extracted from the residents of the city of Saigon. You showed up one day to deliver to the residents the Hanoi flag. You told them that they would display it on the thirtieth of April for the purpose of celebration of victory over South Vietnam and the 58,000-plus American souls on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Then you returned to force those Saigonaise to pay you the ten dollars (for the flag which they never freely wanted) that they had earned from laboring for ten days. A dollar a day; that's how much each average Vietnamese earns.
A son of a Hanoi official spends outright five thousand dollars in one night on expensive liquors, girls, dancers, and friends (as this writer has been informed). In the meantime, a doctor who works for the government's hospital earns 120 dollars a month, a teacher is paid 70 dollars; countless ordinary Vietnamese still struggle to garner a daily portion of rice and fish sauce. Overseas Vietnamese each day send home millions of dollars to help their destitute relatives. (Each year, six billion dollars from overseas Vietnamese are sent home for their poor relatives, knowing the money will be eventually taken by the communist party, yet they have no choice.)
Please tell them that America has and will always care for the ordinary, kindhearted citizens of Vietnam. They do deserve the very freedom that the members of the communist party exclusively have.
The cries for religious freedom are being heard loud and clear as the government still controls the churches. Priests and monks are still under surveillance by the government. The Hanoi officials consider a dignified Vietnamese American not as an American but only a Vietnamese; once back in the soil of Vietnam, he or she is subject to the same undemocratic treatment as those who are still living under the regime…
Isn't it a sad story after thirty years of North Vietnamese victory?
Linh Duy Vo, Poet
A grateful American citizen
A public servant of 29 years
The United States of America
Poet's Note: The above essay touched, moved and inspired a Viet vet from Littleton, CO, to send a ten-dollar check in honor of those Saigonaise. I suggested that the gesture be sent to the American Heart Association.
© Copyright by Linh Duy Vo. All rights reserved.