November 22, 2016
Escape to Freedom—Commentary
Communism in the 20th Century is responsible for the worldwide deaths of 100-110 million people. Those numbers in no way begin to quantify the suffering endured, and continuing to be endured by its victims who survived. It is simply not possible to overstate how evil communism was and still is. And yet, most people treat its evilness with dispassion as if this is all somehow irrelevant, ancient history. Sadly, most of these same people have more informed opinions about their favorite movie star or fantasy football team.
The single greatest patriotic encouragement given young American men to serve in Vietnam came from President Kennedy’s inaugural address in January of 1961when he committed our nation to a promise it would 12 years later ultimately break: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Contemporary America is largely bereft of such high-minded willingness to sacrifice and, unfortunately, is probably better described by the more recent ubiquitous quote put forth by Hillary Clinton during her Benghazi testimony in 2013: “At this point, what difference does it make?” This line and attitude can be applied across a wide spectrum of issues people today are far too willing to compromise on.
Does truth matter? Does history matter? Is liberty worth fighting for? Reading “Escape to Freedom” reminds us that the answers to the previous questions are a resounding “Yes!.”
Huynh Cong Anh’s personal story of service, sacrifice, suffering and most especially perseverance needs to be embraced by every thinking person serious in the pursuit of truth and detail about the nightmare that befell the freedom-loving people of the Republic of Vietnam. Few have better captured the human spirit’s natural yearning for freedom and willingness to risk all in its quest.
“Escape to Freedom” is germane to all people, but is essential reading for American Vietnamese born in the US. All too common in Vietnamese culture is the stoic nature of enduring hardship. While noble in intent, what has happened is that newborn generations are ignorant of their family histories and know little of the high price paid for the freedom they now casually take for granted.
An unfortunate truth about Huynh’s story is that while it is his story, it represents the similar experiences of, in the case of former RVN military officers, several hundred thousand families who were forced to endure aspects of the ‘re-education’ process,’ and for those who fled over land or by boat, several million freedom-craving people willing to risk everything to escape the communists.
Huynh’s comprehensive memoir is almost information and sensory overload, too much for the average native-born American citizen to assimilate. The hardships, humiliations and depravations meted out by the communists on their subjugated southern ‘brothers and sisters’ is far outside what most of us have experienced. And yet there were few options between slavery and freedom. There was no one to sue, no time to revel in victimhood as many here are inclined towards. As a sage Vietnamese refugee observed: “If they could, even the trees would leave.” Those who survived ‘re-education’ and the high seas to arrive here have enriched our country in ways impossible to measure.
America has been made better by two million new citizens since 1975 who genuinely understand the price of freedom and the need for continued vigilance in its defense. Their sacrifices must never be forgotten…but first we must make the world aware of them. Read this book.