April 30th this year marks the 40th year anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. This event and the war itself has undoubtedly shaped the histories of every Vietnamese person and descendant of Vietnamese heritage across the globe. Black April is a day for us to mourn the loss of our countrymen and reflect on the stories entrenched in our families’ histories and struggles–past and ongoing. Today, many second generation Vietnamese have taken to social media to reflect on this day and how it has impacted their families’ and personal stories. This blog post is a collection of the reflections made on #BlackApril the #FallofSaigon.
“Today we not only remember the events that led to the fall of Saigon, but to the many people that were and are continually affected by it.
In many ways, I am thankful but heartbroken to acknowledge this day. I think of my mother, father, relatives, and the many Vietnamese that risked (and lost) their lives to escape a war torn country. I think of their survival from sinking ships and violence on the open seas, multiple refugee camps, the struggle with immigration to the U.S., as well as many other unimaginable challenges. I think of these things, and I am truly grateful for their courage and resilience.
Some might say that this war is “in the past”, but for many, it lives on in their memories, forever changing the landscape of their lives, and consequently their children’s lives. So here’s to the boat people that crossed thousands of miles and the Vietnamese American children who emerged from this tragedy. May you find inspiration in your life to be an impactful member of society and make the journey taken by our ancestors worth every risk.#ngày30tháng4năm1975 #BlackApril #Vietnam #VietnameseAmerican” – Mai Pham
“…as I update photos to remind people of the#FallofSaigon #April30 I took a genuine moment to remember where I came from, where my parents came from. A war-torn country, people who have lost their lives and risked their freedom for us.
It reminds me of where I am today is a result of people coming together for solutions, letting go of the past, and building something better for the future. So I would like to say that everything in the moment does not last forever…
‘In our deepest moments of struggle, frustration, fear and confusion, we are being called upon to reach in and touch our hearts. Then, we will know what to do, what to say, how to be. What is right is always in our hearts.'” – Emily Duong
“Sacrifice. That is something that every parent is familiar with. Sacrifice comes in all forms, from the little things, to life changing moments. 40 years ago from today, was the fall of Saigon. It was this day that we had lost the war. It was this day that my parents realized that they could not raise nor provide for their family, or provide my sister and I with the opportunities we’ve been so lucky to have, in this fallen country they once called home. It was this day they realized they had to leave. Sacrifice. They had to sacrifice all that they knew– family, friends, culture, language for us. They escaped, and journeyed as “boat people” carrying my sister who was 7 months old at the time where they found safety at a refugee camp, where I was born. It would take another 5 years of patience until my family was chosen to come to America, an unknown country, and language. My parents, made the biggest sacrifice of all. Without any security, guarantee or reassurance, and not knowing the outcome, they gave everything up, all that they knew and had, for a better life, for my family, for my sister and I– and I am forever grateful. #4301975 #neverforget” – Phuong Duy Tran
“For the Vietnamese diaspora and the ones left behind, and the ones who chose to stay, and the ones who had to stay, the war never ended. How could it have when the communist regime continues to oppress and abuse democracy and human rights activists, when babies are still born with disabilities and illnesses from a certain defoliant, when my generation is still coping with the consequences of our parents’ trauma because survival isn’t always peaceful. And so I write and listen and remember. Because I’m still haunted by the loss I’ve inherited, I’m still caught between the dead and the living, deciphering between what I know and what I will need to search the ocean floor for.
“I never really understood why my dad was never adamant about going back to his home country. He still had countless family and friends there and quite some time had already passed since he left Vietnam as a young adult. When I was younger, I had always assumed it was because it was too expensive to go, or he couldn’t take off work for that long, or he wanted to wait for all of my siblings and I to be old enough so that he could take us all back with him. Yet years passed and still there was no urgency from him to visit Vietnam. By then I was old enough to pick up on comments here and there between my parents that there was a much bigger reason at play. Then I finally learned about the significance of April 30, 1975 – not from the one-sided perspectives printed in school text books, but from the perspectives of people whose homes were destroyed and their lives uprooted. I learned my parents’ stories, and my grandparents’ stories, and the stories of all my aunts and uncles. It was then that I realized how much of the events surrounding the Fall of Saigon had impacted my dad and had left their deep marks. My dad, who never let anything phase him, even my crazy antics, had been scarred enough that he was left with no desire to return. He had much anger and resentment about all the events that had passed, all the things that he was put through, and all the things that my grandpa and uncle had to suffer through.
Last year, I was fortunate to be able to travel alongside my dad as he made his first trip back and as I made my first trip ever to Vietnam. Although it was because of my grandfather’s passing that pushed this visit to even happen, I could tell that my dad could finally let some of his resentment go after he was able to see and experience what life was like there now. The happy reunion with his family and friends allowed him to see that if they could move on, so could he. I know that he will never forget those events, but it is important to let go and move forward.
Today marks  years from the day that represents such an important event in the history of Vietnamese people across the world. As time passes and as wounds continue to heal, we will always remember this day and commemorate and honor all those whose lives were impacted. As generations pass, it is my hope that these stories continue to be shared and passed on so that our history, our heritage, will never be forgotten.” – Jackie Nguyen
“I’m not wearing black at the moment…nor have a blacked out profile picture, or have something scribbled on my wrist. These are absolutely valid methods of paying remembrance, building solidarity, and building awareness, just not the way I choose to see today. The historians see today in many lights, the day Saigon fell to the communist government to be later officially renamed as Ho Chi Minh city, the day that United States engagement in the Vietnam War officially ended.
Wikipedia has it defined in Vietnamese the following ways.
- “Ngày mất nước” (Day we Lost the Country)
- “Tháng Tư Đen” (Black April)
- ”Ngày Quốc Nhục” (National Day of Shame)
- “Ngày Quốc Hận” (National Day of Resentment) by Overseas Vietnamese.
For me today historically is the as the approximate date where it was finally “official” that the shit truly hit the fan for hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese people regardless of political leanings and involvement.
I never get nostalgic about all that came to pass or “could’ve been”, it’d be ridiculous to do so, I wasn’t alive during the time. These thoughts are rarely helpful in guiding me forward.
Today, represents a moment where my family and relatives proved they could persevere forward past that chaotic event.
Tomorrow, I see as a day where we will continue to do so despite what comes our way.” – Stephen Nguyen
(Excerpt from original post on Medium)
“When I was much younger, I was downright ignorant and had no idea about the importance of this day. My parents would tell me their first-hand account of the war and I would blow them off not only because I didn’t know any better, but also because I was ashamed of being Vietnamese and being naive, I just did not care.
It wasn’t until my first visit to Vietnam that I realized what hardships my parents had to go through in order to give me the life that I have today.
…my parents left their families without the chance to tell them. No goodbyes, no time to pack, no nothing. They were on their way to a completely foreign land with no money and no knowledge of what was going to happen.
I can’t even imagine the fear going through their minds, living with warfare in their home. Before my mom left Vietnam, she told me of nights when they would have to go into the forest and lay in the swamp for hours while bullets went flying overhead.
My parents both ended up in the same refugee camp in Thailand, which is how my parents met. They went to the U.S. separately, my dad to Virginia, my mom to Mississippi. Eventually, my dad went down to get my mom and brought her back to Virginia.
Today, I am always more than happy to listen to what my parents have to say and I am proud of being Vietnamese. My parents may have came from a place of poverty, but it is also a place full of culture and hardworking, brave people.” – Mai Nguyen
(Excerpt from original post on Medium)
“40 years ago today, Saigon fell to communist forces, which led to the diaspora of over 3 million Vietnamese who left with nothing but the clothes on their backs for the a chance of a better life for themselves and their children. I am forever grateful to those who sacrificed everything during the war and to my parents who set sail on little wooden boats, faced the endless black ocean, overcame starvation, thirst, and pirates, to give me the life I have today.Never forget #ngày30tháng4năm1975#vietnam#blackapril#vietnameseamerican” – Justin Nguyen
Although we are a generation removed from the Vietnam War, this event that shaped our home country continues to wage very different wars in our hearts. Some wounds cut deep, wounds of battle, wounds of loss, wounds of chaos, wounds of displacement. We move forward, but not without reflection and homage to the events that shape who we are and what we have today. To the first generation: Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your resilience. Thank you for your courage. The second-generation does not forget.
Thank you to those individuals who shared their reflections with us.