A Family Holiday

Nov 22, 2019

Okay, my Thanksgiving story is I came here from Vietnam, okay? I never never know about Thanksgiving. What is it and how we celebrate it…

So my family came here from Vietnam more than 40 years ago when the Vietnam War ended in 1975. We escaped from the country and when we came here, we were sponsored by other families like you and yours, yours, yours, yours. Everyone sponsored us.

The family is nine children and two parent, so 11 people and my aunt and my cousins, so 13 people. 13 people, we escaped the country and we came here by the government helped us to came here as refugees?

We escaped the country by running out the house, neighborhood, and then went to the seashore, where the boat. Everything that can be floated, people use it. Even though a small, small bucket, if you can sit on it and you do this and then you took it-

Because you escape for your life, you don’t care, you don’t care. We escaped. We were so lucky because my high school classmate, her sister worked for the US government and then the military withdrew from the Vietnam country, so they took the employees with them. So her sister took the whole family and the she told me “You want to go with us? You should just go.”

So I told my family, let’s go. At that moment, you cannot let people know that you are going, they are going to give you trouble and they keep you stay. We just have family bag with food. We have fish, canned food and put it in there, but we forgot the opener!

So we ran, we just pretend that I’m going on a walk, so we walked to the seashore and then the US float into the land and took us out to the open sea. And then at the open sea, the US government, the military, took everything, asked for everything that float. So they asked for the cargos boat for anybody in the open sea that can you help, if you are in the open sea, can you go in and help people from their float from the country?

So we got on to the float and then the float got us into the open sea and in the open sea we have the USS ship. So from the float, we climbed up to the boat, ship. And then I saw people fell down from the rope because this is the ship and the waves are like this. So when they go in here, you have to climb up. But the water take this float out, I saw a lady, she fell down. At that moment, you took care of your life, you don’t have time to think of anything.

It’s amazing, my youngest sister is five years old. I was 25. My youngest sister is five years old and she climbed… at that moment you climb it, you three years old, you climb it. You 93 years old, you climb it. Nobody help anybody because war time. It’s amazing, 13 of us and my aunt is 63. So we go 63 oldest and five years old youngest, climb up and then go to the boat.

And on the boat, we saw the American soldier, and I was like… Because we don’t know if friend or foe, because they don’t know friend or foe because at that moment, everybody is a mess. So we go like that, so we walk in on there and then we went on the boat. We saw only about 12 soldiers, but hundreds of people like you, like me, hundreds of people we go like this. Because it’s for life, it’s not for cargo, it’s not for your backpack or for anything, they said throw everything down to the water.

And you know what? We found out it smells so bad. Smelling so bad. But later on we found out that is the cargo boat. They transport the cow, they transport the pig, transport the animal to the market or to the farm!

You have to throw all the stuff away, they said throw it away. But people were surviving, they sneak in. Yes, we still keep the canned food. And on the boat, only 20 soldiers would take care of the food for hundreds, hundreds of people with this, otherwise it’s going to chaos.

And then we hungry, right? We don’t have enough food. Each family, they have one spoon. The soldiers have to cook, they have to cook. And they serve food for you like we have food here. But the whole family, 13 people, our family, one spoon. One spoon of the rice, because only 12 soldiers cook the food, how can they give enough food for you?

So three days on that one, we have the little kid. The kid without milk. The seven months or three months, they don’t have any milk. So the mom go like, she get her container and she said you have any milk for my three months old, three weeks, whatever. And three days and we already have people, can’t do anything. Three days without food.

And after that we got onto Guam. That boat brought us into Guam. Guam, the island. And on Guam, we have the soldiers place and then we all got in there, oh my god. You know what happened? We walk in, the first thing we saw is a mountain of banana. A mountain of apple. A mountain, I told you, a mountain. A mountain, because they know that people almost die. A mountain of everything and then everybody look at that mountain and think, what is that?

Is that dreaming? So we went in and eated and you know what happened? [They all steal the food]. Banana? Apple? They know that’s the food, but you know with survival, you just got this. So now you don’t trust anybody, you don’t trust anything.

And then, I’ll make it short. After that, we do paperwork and then the government said, you stay in Guam whenever you want to, you don’t have to rush into the US land. So my father is like, no, no. I don’t know what’s happening.

So we filled out the paperwork and then on Guam, we have the club like this, club exactly like this. High school club that they go in and sponsor people out for high school. You want to live in Pennsylvania? Because it’s in the refugee camp… in Guam if you want to go to, where, where, and then we figured it out and then they have this.

And then when we went to Pennsylvania in the refugee camp, we have places like this. They serve this and they serve life story, places like this. And it was so fun. And the people sponsored my family. Your family sponsored my sister, my family would host you. The church sponsored our family, 13 people. The church meeting said you want to sponsor which one, 13 of us? So you sponsor my father, so my father live with your family, my mother with your family and me living with your family and my sister living with, so 13 families sponsor 13 of us.

So the church pastor and the owner of a plant, that make fabric or something, everyone. So we all meet each other every Sunday! And then from there we learn about Thanksgiving. We learned about Thanksgiving.

At that moment, I don’t know what is Thanksgiving Day, but it’s so happy, happy, happy moment because everybody get together at the church for the Thanksgiving Day and after that we saw each other. And then in the family, each of 12 or 13 family celebrates Thanksgiving Day so we learn from it. We learn about the turkey, we learn about the cooking, we learn about the stuff, about cranberry sauce.