FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — April 30th may not be a significant day for most, but for the Vietnamese community and those who fought in the Vietnam War, it is known as Black April.
This day signifies the Fall of Saigon and also the end of the Vietnam War. WDVM spoke with local Vietnamese organization leaders on what this day means for their community.
Thang Nguyen, CEO & President of Boat People SOS in Falls Church, works on resettling refugees after the war.
“Black April means that we lost a country for many of us we lost our families, our loved ones, our real loss also our neighborhood, our way of life,” said Nguyen. “And most importantly, our aspiration for better Vietnam”
Nguyen himself is a refugee that recalls his memories leaving Vietnam.
“My parents and me and my two younger siblings left on a boat, but I still remember that day, the 29th of April, the day before Saigon fell,” said Nguyen. “Our family tried to get to the helicopters and a ship, a boat, the fleet, but we couldn’t because Saigon was attacked with rockets at the time.”
For Nguyen, his own experience of struggling to leave Vietnam after the war is how he got involved with Boat People SOS.
Genie Nguyen, President and CEO Voice of Vietnamese Americans, is also a refugee and recalls Black April as a sad day for her and her community.
“There are many sad stories, obviously,” said Genie. “Yeah, I had a friend that was escaping, Vietnam and she drowned in the sea, and her family lost her information. I was in a big boat with thousands of people. And there were children starving and dehydrated”
Genie took time during the interview to thank Vietnam Veterans for their sacrifices, and referenced Black April Commemoration that the Voice of Vietnamese Americans hosted on April 30, 2015, at the Vietnam War Memorial. She says during the Commemoration,
“We have openly said to them, thank you for all you’ve done, and we have said one thing that they wanted to hear. Welcome home,” said Genie. “So I learned from many veterans, that that is most important for our veterans to feel welcome when they get home.”
Genie says many did not feel welcome after coming home from the war, and that’s why this moment was important for her.
This Black April, both Genie and Thang look forward to seeing their community prosper as they settle their roots in America.
“Well, we felt a loss, but also we do feel hope, because as the saying goes, from the ash, the phoenix will rise, and we have seen the Phoenix rising already we have seen our community taking roots here in America, we have seen, younger Vietnamese Americans going into the mainstream, running for election, doing good work in the community joining the military to defend this country, ” said Thang.
Some remember Black April as a tragic day in history, others are looking forward to the future of success for the Vietnamese Community here in America.
On May 2nd Vietnamese Americans will commemorate the 46th year of their “Journey to Freedom” virtually to register for the event click this link here.
At this conference, the focus will be on empowering the young generation to move forward to the next phase of the journey: We still need to have more representation, better assimilation into the mainstream society, lessen the generational gap, strengthen the consensus to protect our core values. Your attendance and input would be greatly appreciated.
Notable speakers for the conference are:
- US Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) – confirmed
- US Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) – invited
- US Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) – confirmed
- US Congressman Joseph Anh Cao (R-LA) – invited
Many local and national community leaders and advocates will also be speaking during the event.