By Tom Vu
Special for Northwest Asian Weekly
It was a joyous moment June 22 that the Seattle City council passed the resolution to recognize the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag as the symbol for the Seattle’s Vietnamese community.
Kshama Sawant voted against it with two full pages of argument. She had strong arguments though. She probably used the information sent to her from a Vietnamese PHds from UW. She spent nearly an hour before the council meeting to convince the other councilors to change their minds. Many members of the Vietnamese community and I were surprised by Sawant’s vote. We didn’t expect opposition to come from an Asian American.
But she often has her agenda. When we started this movement, we didn’t expect to get even eight votes. We thought if we got five, we would be happy. Last week, we heard we would get four solid votes from the councilmembers. We didn’t expect everyone to go along. And we weren’t prepared to testify—we were emotional during the process in addition to the language barrier. But we won with 8-1 votes. It was a joyous moment for over 100 of those who came to support.
“I was honored to work with our great Seattle Vietnamese community to get this legislation passed,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, who sponsored the legislation. “It was an awesome demonstration of community organizing with almost 300 people in Council Chambers. The spirit of our Vietnamese culture is one of hope and optimism, overcoming hardship in rebuilding their lives and becoming proud American citizens. Finally, Seattle City hall recognized the importance of the recognition of the Heritage and Freedom Flag.”
Below is my testimony to the council about issues of our flag.
The American flag is a representation of the unity of 50 diverse states and the ideals that bind them all together.
Similarly the flag with a yellow field and 3 red bands has been the flag of meaning for South Vietnamese since 1949. It symbolizes the unifying blood running through northern, central, and southern Vietnam. It reminds us of what we stand for: democracy, individual freedom and self-determination. Unfortunately this flag no longer waves in Vietnam.
Yet this flag represents these ideals in the minds and hearts of the Vietnamese who were forced out of Vietnam.
It not only provides sentimental value for many Vietnamese in the US and abroad but also is a symbol of the values and hopes for all our people. Those ideals are still very much alive with us today. Perhaps one day all Vietnamese will share in the freedoms we now enjoy in democratic states around the world. This flag is our rallying call.
We, Vietnamese in the state of Washington urge the city of Seattle to recognize this flag as the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag. (end)
Tom Vu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.