Page 20

A visit to

vietnam }}} Continued from previous page As the son of a military officer serving in the Vietnam conflict, I remember the general response of the American public toward the returning Vietnam vets and, yes, their families sometimes as well. I remember on more than one occasion being confronted when I was with my Dad in uniform by people who wanted him to know their opinion of “The War” and how anyone would have allowed themselves to be sucked in to the conflict. More than once I was ridiculed by teachers and others for speaking out in support of the military members and their service in southeast Asia. I remember asking Dad his thoughts and how he maintained his patience and decorum, and he would quote

Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Dad told me that duty and honor mattered and when he put on the uniform and took the oath he took it seriously, it wasn’t conditioned on public opinion. Dad very much appreciated the ordinary Vietnamese citizens as well as his nation- Steve and Mary pose on a lookout over a river basin on their way to Vinh Phuc, one of the al counterparts in installations their dad served out of. In the background is a bridge built by Americans, which the Vietnamese was destroyed during the Khmer Rouge incursion into Vietnam. army. He saw the dedication of the the street waiting to get visas and in the distance we heard the Catholic Sisters to their charges to legally immigrate or visit the refrain from the song by Stevie in the orphanage and admired United States. Wonder, “We are the world, we all of their commitment in the He looked at me and stated are the children.” face of tough times and war. the obvious, “So, what you think This trip was truly a journey I was told on our visit that Vietnam people think about and I am not sure we will ever 70 percent of the Vietnamese America?” arrive at a destination — that population is under the age of There is a vibrant sense of en- place where we can have total 30. The war 40 years ago is part trepreneurship in the economy understanding and peace about of history that for most is past. and in places the grip of socialmy Dad’s sacrifice and the sacEnglish is compulsory in most ism/communism has been light- rifices of so many who wore the schools and is perceived as the ened because of the economic uniforms of the United States of language of opportunity. One stagnation it created. America. young man who was a student of There was a rhythm unique But what we know is what we international economics shared to each city we visited blendcan see — that time has moved with me that, “Americans make ing ethnic cultures (Vietnam on and healing is taking place. much better friends than enhas over 40 minority groups), There will always be an empty emies.” dreams and a sense of the big place in our lives where my Dad When I asked one person I picture of a country in catharsis. would have been — as with so met in Saigon, “What do the During one of the lunar many families who lost loved Vietnamese people think of festivals we were in the ancient ones in and after Southeast America today” he told me to merchant city of Hoi An on the Asia and the other wars of our get in his car and he would show China Sea on the east coast of generation. me. Vietnam. The city was teeming We celebrate the 28 additional We drove by the Russian with people of many Oriental years we had with him and Embassy and he asked me, “So, countries, plus Russians, Gerhonor the memory of his service what you see?” I replied, “A semans, Australians and several and the principles of faith in cured compound with walls and other nations along with at least God, love of family and loyalty guard posts.” two Americans we knew of. to country by which he lived. He then took me by the GerIt was a magical moment at Steve Bishop feels privileged to live in man Embassy and repeated the dusk along the beautiful Thu Wenatchee. He is married to Cheryl, question, “So, what you see?” My Bon River. As the day receded has three children —Cathy, Nate answer was the same. people throughout the town and Joy — eight grandchildren, is Then he drove me by the began to light brightly colored an ordained associate pastor and a local Realtor. “I saw Wenatchee for American Embassy, which aplanterns. Lotus shaped pink luthe first time when I was 16, and said, peared much the same from the minaries were placed floating in ‘I’m coming back,’” said Steve. outside except for one thing: the waterways. The soft glow of The line of people going down candles complemented the stars


| The Good Life

| January 2014

Good Life January 2014  

The daring dozen: catching up with people from past stories in The Good Life • Horses as medicine • Visiting Vietnam where Dad served • Buil...

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