Viet-Am Third Migration

First wave: 1975, 4 “ports of entry”: Arkansas, California, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Second wave: 1978 -2008 South Westward to California and Texas.

Third wave: joining everyone else during this Recession to the Lone Star State, where 8% unemployment still looks better than 12% and 10% in Florida and California, respectively.

Part of the American Dream is mobility: chasing the tornado to find the rainbow in the end. If it’s out there, we will hunt it down, dead or alive.

So begins our journey, to the moon and into the cave (found one recently near Lao’s border in Central Vietnam – see latest National Geographic).

Like Gordon Gecko in Oliver Stone‘s latest installment, Viet-American, over a bowl of Pho in Hong Kong Mall, Houston, says, “it’s a game, a game between people”.

I have yet seen a set of more competitive people. They push their children and themselves to achieve and acquire: straight A+’s for the kids, Lexus’ for moms and Heineken for dads.

Pajamas culture in collision with Long Johns’. At least, both extol strong work ethic. Size apart, third-wave Viet-Ams (mostly in Houston and Dallas) found natural affiliation with Texan (machismo) in dominion over the land (agrarian bent), the sea (Galveston) and exploration of natural resources (oil).

Herd instinct kicks in. Warmer weather, Sun Belt migration pattern which already started since 1978 (with one hiccup during the oil burst in early 80’s – to preticipate Silicon Valley burst 20 years later).

No wonder they opened another Vietnam consulate there in Houston to ease Visa processing. It’s time to roll that dice again, Texan style. There was a Rock and Roll band already stationed there. The CBC, after a stint in Hawaii, are content to stay put (instead of “born to be wild”). The aged fan base got two phases of the past all mixed up: ball room dancing (French influence) with R & R (GI’s influence during the War).  Oh Suzie Q! Napalm girl now turned 40.

For the Viet-Am Catholics, this would be their fourth and final migration: 1954, from North to South Vietnam just to join every else in 1975 and later years out to seas, and risk becoming pilgrims at the mercy of pirates while looking for paradise.

Their sons and daughters now have Anglicized names. Some ran for office, others turned accomplished journalists. One of them had a piece on NBC Nightly News . Thanh Truong covered a fire-causing death of hobos’ in New Orleans.

Ending his report in a note of empathy, Truong commented “they came here seeking shelter which turned to be a memorial”. Let’s hope the same comment won’t apply to Third Wave Viet-Am U-Haulers to Texas these days. Just another untold tale from a lingering Recession.


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