America Means Freedom To Them
A friend of mine can’t for the life of him understand why some Americans are clamoring to replace capitalism with socialism.
Born in Vietnam, he was a young boy when he and his family barely escaped that communist nation amid gunfire.
America welcomed his family among thousands of Vietnamese refugees. His father, now in his 90s, sees his children living his vision of the American dream: they’re educated, with good jobs and flourishing families.
My friend said all that he and his family ever wanted was the freedom to rise or fall on their own merits - the freedom he was denied in his native country.
I met a number of people like my Vietnamese friend while living in the Washington, D.C., region for nearly 10 years.
My landlord there and his family barely survived civil war in Lebanon. We became friends and he told me his story.
His father had two successful businesses in Beirut until civil war broke out. The family lost everything and was stuck in a bombed-out apartment building for more than four years.
In 1977, I was a carefree teen in a Pittsburgh suburb. He was dragging dead bodies into the street and setting them on fire - the only way to get rid of the horrible stench.
Eventually, his father scraped enough money together to get the family to Cyprus. A few years later, they arrived in America and settled in Alexandria, Va. He and his siblings - who only a few years before were destined to become lawyers and doctors - took jobs as busboys, dishwashers and hotel cleaners.
They saved until they had enough money to open a bakery, which is flourishing still, affording them the means to live their version of the American dream.