By Duong Can Son
One day in 1979 I was at home in San Jose watching television. I was watching “60 Minutes” because they were doing a show on the boat people coming to Malaysia from Vietnam. Ed Bradley was interviewing some of the people. They told him they had come from Vietnam in a boat and the Malaysian government would not let them land. And their boat sank and many of the people on the boat drowned. All of the people who had survived were crying.
One of the people Ed Bradley interviewed I recognized. He was my brother’s best friend in Vietnam. His name is Phuong Hong Dang. So I telephoned my brother right away, and I asked him, “Are you watching ’60 Minutes’?” And he said, “Yes. Did you just see Phuong Hong Dang?” And I said, “Yes!” So we decided to try to get in touch with him and to sponsor him so he could come to the United States. We wrote to the Red Cross and tried to contact him.
After we got in touch with him he wrote to us. He told us that one of the people on his boat who had drowned was our father. He said that our father had paid the boat owner to take him out of Vietnam. But then the boat sank off the cost of Malaysia and my father was lost.
All my father ever wanted was freedom. He just wanted to be a free man. That was all. He used all of his money to send my brother and me on a boat out on the South China Sea so that we could find freedom. We survived and we made it to America. After that he worked and saved his money until he had enough so he could get on a boat and leave Vietnam. He wanted to run away from the Communists and live with his sons in America. But it was too late for him. Too late.