Honoring a U.S. citizen's distinguished contribution which makes one proud to be an American
darkness of Wednesday, April 30, 1975, was
helicopter rotor blades were cutting through the fog of despair,
lifting an American general who had stayed until the eleventh
hour. He left Saigon just a few hours before the penetration of
the dawn...of the death of South Vietnam.
Twenty-six years later. New millennium, 2001.
of The Saigon Mission Association.
special group of Americans gather each year on the weekend of
April 30. They are “the last Americans to leave South
Homer Smith, Ben Register, and Jim Piner were amongst us on this
26th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon.
divine intervention, my life’s journey has been blessed. It
has crossed paths with these Americans.
their presence, at the banquet, I gave a speech written from my
heart (without notes).
noticed tears rolling down on a face, and I was deeply moved.
words made me feel as dreamy as if I were in the air, above a
flowing river nestled in a green forest.
papas-san! My name is Linh D. Vo. I am the baby-san the
Americans saved in the Vietnam War. More than 58,000 died so
that I could live; and now I am in America, with three children,
born in the U.S.A.”
words led me into a pure sharing of my love and gratitude for
the nation that is second to none in possession of kindness and
generosity, of giving and sacrificing for others around the
told them about my book of poetry, “Dear Daddy”,
which was coincidentally published in the same year (1995) as “Offerings
at the Wall: Artifacts from the Vietnam Memorial
In the latter, on page 239, a bronzed poem, Dear Daddy,
seemingly embraced the 58,000-plus souls.
In the latter, on page 239, a bronzed poem, Dear Daddy, seemingly embraced the 58,000-plus souls.
told them about the honor that was bestowed upon me by history
professor John A. Phillips, University of California at
Riverside. He nominated my book for a Pulitzer Prize.
Daddy" (the piece of my life) led to a second book
of poetry, titled “To America, Love and Gratitude,”
published in 2000.
it, General Smith blessed me with his foreword.
a morning breeze, my thoughts wandered, seeing the precious
"Dear Daddy" being embraced by the Pulitzer’s
white cloud, in abstract.
suddenly, a moment one could not freeze; yet, it framed a
thought: The General Homer Smith Prize.
prize will honor a U.S. citizen whose distinguished contribution
truly makes one proud to be an American.
has become the sun if the Pulitzer were the moon; the day if the
latter were the night.
then briefed my dear audience about Mr. Joseph Pulitzer, whose
“yellow journalism” business brought him tons of money that
was eventually used to endow the Columbia University School of
Hungarian-born immigrant, Mr. Pulitzer’s early life parallels
that of a Viet refugee who came to America, feeling at loss at a
teen age, speaking no English...
concluded my inspired-from-the-heart speech by sharing my
sixteen-year-old daughter’s words: “Dad, this ‘General
Homer Smith Prize’ exceeds the Pulitzer Prize.”
am leaving you with my auspicious hope.
The boy in the Poem
Our U.S.A. Flag, taken out of DAO Headquarters, Tan Son Nhut Airport, Saigon, 29 April 1975.
I am honored to be given to by Louis Schuster in honor of the Last Commanding General of the Vietnam War.
Photo taken on July 4, 2007.
© Copyright by Linh Duy Vo. All rights reserved.