Andrew Lam: Our Vietnamese Hearts – The Diaspora 38 Years Later

[ndlr] A lire sur le blog du Huffington Post : l’écrivain et journaliste américain d’origine vietnamienne Andrew Lam s’interroge sur l’identité des Vietnamiens exilés qui, après la chute de Saigon il y a 38 ans, le 30 avril 1975, ont quitté leur pays pour les Etats-Unis. Sa génération, américanisée, diffère de celle de ses parents toujours enfermée dans une logique d’exilés. L’appel de la terre natale taraude les Viet Kieu et si certains ont tenté le retour pour en quelque sorte « se retrouver », d’autres, au regard de leur propre histoire, n’imaginent un retour au pays qu’avec un changement de régime politique. Andrew Lam livre ses impressions lors d’un voyage de San José à Little Saigon qui doit le mener sur le site du Mémorial de la guerre du Viêt-Nam à Westminster (photo ci-dessous).

Our Vietnamese Hearts – The Diaspora 38 Years Later

Andrew Lam

Mẹ Việt Nam ơi, Chúng Con Vẫn Còn đây (Oh Mother Vietnam, We Are Still Here)

The lyrics from this sentimental song come back to me once in a while, especially when I think of the Vietnamese Diaspora and its complicated relationship with its homeland. One bitter evening on April 30, 1976, in an auditorium in downtown San Francisco, my family and I sang it to mark our first anniversary in exile. The first of a handful of Vietnamese songs penned abroad after the end of a war that spurred an unprecedented exodus, Oh Mother Vietnam was sung the way a people who had just lost a country would sing it; that is, with tears in our eyes and a cry in our voices. Some in the audience, I remember, even wore white headbands, the kind worn at some funerals to mourn the dead.

VietnamWarMemorialWestminster
Vietnam War memorial in Westminster

Nearly four decades have passed since then. If I were to sing it now, not that I remember the lyrics entirely, I would sing it with a tone full of irony. So removed from that emotional juncture, I wonder to what extent is the song’s declaration still true? Vietnam is accessible now to the Diaspora, but to what extent are we still here for her? Who, in fact, are we?

Read more / Lire la suite : Huffington Post, 28/04/2013 ou sur The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, 22/04/2013. (pdf téléchargeable).

This essay originally appeared in the Cairo Review. Andrew Lam is editor and cofounder of New America Media, an association of more than three thousand ethnic media outlets in the United States. He is the author of Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora, East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres, and most recently, a collection of short stories, Birds of Paradise Lost.

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Tri Ta, the first Vietnamese American elected mayor of a U.S. city, in front of Vietnam War Memorial, Westminster, California, Nov. 9, 2012. © Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times