Tell me the truth: were you thankful on Thanksgiving Day? Be honest! Did you make an effort to be deeply and sincerely thankful?
This year, I know I was deeply thankful. For the first time in three years, my family had a home of our own. Both of our children and our daughter’s boyfriend were able to be with my husband and me. And so were our neighbors, David and Jamie.
Thankfulness swirled through our house during the days leading up to Thanksgiving Thursday. So after our feast, when I asked David how he came to live in America, my family and I realized that we, like most Americans, have virtually no idea how truly thankful we should be.
David’s parents were from China originally. Christians, they fled to Saigon in southern Vietnam after the Communists took over China. There they settled and made a living and had David. In South Vietnam, David and his parents were free to come and go as they pleased, they were free to practice their Christian faith and they were free to work hard and prosper. They had a good life.
Then war broke out. The Tet Offensive rained military terror on Saigon. David remembers staying inside and keeping low to the ground as bullets whizzed through the walls and roof of his family’s home. After the Saigon offensive ended, he remembers that things got better with the presence of American soldiers. When the Americans rode through his neighborhood in trucks, the soldiers threw candy on the ground for the children. David and the other children loved when the American troops appeared because they were so friendly and kind.
In 1975, the war ended with the North Vietnamese Army as the victor. David remembers many people in Saigon trying to leave the country before the last of the Americans left.
“Why?” I asked him, wanting to hear the answer from someone who had actually been there and lived through this.
David explained that because the North Vietnamese were Communists, the people in South Vietnam knew that all of their freedoms were coming to a complete and abrupt end once power was firmly in the victor’s hand. They knew the new rulers would be ruthless in establishing their power.
Vietnamese who had worked closely with the Americans were quickly executed by the new rulers. David saw their brutalized bodies. They were tied to poles in towns and villages and along the roads for everyone to see the fate of traitors. After all, fear is a powerful weapon.
Others who had been friendly with the Americans received a knock on their doors in the middle of the night, Nazi-style. They were loaded into trucks, their abductions so quick and unsuspected that their money, jewelry, clothing were left behind.
Rather than being executed, these people were “relocated” to remote areas of Vietnam where they were forced to start their lives completely over. They were dropped off in the middle of nowhere with no housing, no tools, no nothing. In a desolate area, they were no threat to the new government.
What happened to their houses? Confiscated and given to people who were sympathetic to the Communists. A reward, a pay-off one might say.
Trucks filled with dead bodies drove through towns and villages. People who saw this were sickened and afraid but completely helpless. Anyone caught trying to leave Vietnam was arrested and put into Communist jail cells that gave new meaning to the word “barbaric.”
David is very bright and wanted to attend a university, but only those whose families were part of the Communist government were allowed to attend. The Communists obliterated the middle class. Suddenly, there were only two classes: the rulers and the others.
David explained that in communism, everyone is equal except for the ruling class. Everyone has the same income and possessions except for those in power and they have more. A lot more.
I think of our national news and I know I need to get on my knees and pray. What do you think?
Please pray daily for our country.
“The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord raises up those who are brought down. The Lord loves those who are right and good.” Psalm 146:8.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011