Waking up at three o’clock this morning, the first images came to my mind were the Vietnamese tombstones at the Westminster Memorial Park where I paid tribute to the Vietnamese Boat People who died during the escape of the Vietnamese Communist Regime after the Fall of Saigon in April 1975. It was my first time partaking in the 9th Annual Ceremony, taking place on last Sunday of the month of April. I wasn’t sure how I would feel, but I knew there would be tears rolling off my cheeks uncontrollably, so I hurriedly got a few tissues from my car with me before I entered the cemetery.
The minute I set foot in the cemetery, I got emotional for seeing the familiar structures of the Vietnamese styles. In a few American cemeteries I visited, all the tombstones are placed flat on the ground, but in this place, most of them are upright. Some of them even have the shape of the coffins on the ground which is exactly like in Vietnam.
I proceeded to the ceremony. I was about fifteen minutes late, even I left my house 11/2 hour earlier, so I missed the musical part. There were not many people there, maybe less than 100. Half of the people were dignitaries and organizers. Perhaps, less than thirty were bystanders like myself.
My first teardrops were when I closed my eyes for the 60-second in honoring the deaths. I was amazed that some speakers abilities to deliver Vietnamese speeches in their non-native language.
The last part of the event, we all gathered around the statues of the Vietnamese Boat People. Several different religions administered to pray for the death, administering for the deaths. This was when I got most emotional 😭. Standing there with one hand holding a long lit incense, the other holding my cellular phone to recording the history unfold. Many died, in the four to five hundred thousand during their escape. Many were brutally raped and murdered by the Thailand pirates! Other were killed by heavy storms, capsizing their little boats. And the rest from starvation and thirst due to loss of directions on the vast ocean. I recently read 46 stories from the Vietnamese Boat People survivors which brought me so much anguish and heartache.
As a lone traveler, I walked out with heavy steps as I saw many tombstones with the entire family names on them. What a tragedy! Who knew leaving the country where they uttered their first words would be the end of the entire family day on earth. I stayed in my car for a while waiting for the emotion to subside before I headed home.
I graduated with a Bachelor in Political Science, but I decided right before my graduation not to get involved in Politics. It does not fit me well, but I have always interested in the welfare of other lives. I love people in general and more so for the millions still living in Vietnam. Partaking in Politics here in the United States would jeopardize my chances of being there and helping them in the future. As a conscious writer, I support what’s right. I take no side of the Political spectrum.
Coming to the Westminster Memorial Park yesterday brought me closer to home, for my heart still bleeds from time to time for being away. I love being around my Vietnamese community, the music and Vietnamese spoken words made my heart warm again. Thank You! ❤️