My Family and the American Creed

Posted by Solo Lim Florida
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This is the story of how my parents immigrated here from Cambodia and Vietnam and how the American Creed has affected their lives and stories.

America to many people is the land of opportunity and chance for those not so fortunate to have a new hope at building a new life in this country. Today, America is run by a government in which the power resides in the people rather than the leaders. The ideals of America can be represented by three very important words: freedom, equality, and justice. These words provide a foundation to which our country can function and prosper. America is also a nation which consists of much diversity whether it be race, skin color, language, or beliefs. Over the lifetime of this country, millions of people have immigrated here to start a new life, or to escape persecution, or to leave a failed country. Nearly forty years ago in 1981, my parents had to go through that same journey to be in America and become the people they are today. The American Creed has greatly affected their stories and is something they will whole heartedly believe in throughout their lives.

To start, my Dad was born in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. He was the youngest of four siblings and grew up in a time when the Khmer Rouge ruled over Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge was a communist organization which believed in a utopian and agrarian society. However, this terrible regime would be responsible for one of the worst mass killings of the 20th century. The Khmer Rouge took away and killed my Dad's father when he was two years old and left his mom to care for him and his three siblings. During that time, my Dad's family was forced out of their home to work in the farm lands by the leader named Pol Pot. After the labor camps, his mom decided that they could not live in Cambodia anymore because in their time away from home, the army had taken over their house. She took her four young children and escaped the persecution of the Khmer Rouge to Thailand on foot. In Thailand, they stayed at the refugee camps while trying to get to the United States via the Red Cross. When asked why they wanted to go to America, my grandmother said that she wanted her children to have a good education. At the age of seven, my Dad and his family were able to be sponsored over to the U.S. and were taken in by a gracious family in Bradenton, Florida. They would become our extended family even today. My Dad would later go on to be the valedictorian of his high school and achieve an engineering degree at Auburn University where he eventually met my Mom. Having grown up in the regime of the Khmer Rouge where the government has all the power and the people are just laborers with no rights, my Dad greatly appreciates the opportunity given to him by the United States and a government that resides in the people. The American Creed is everything that my Dad perceives to be the foundation of beliefs that he is willing to stand by and support in America today.

Likewise, my Mom was born in Da Lat, Vietnam. She was the second oldest of four children and grew up in the communist state of Vietnam under the leadership and ideals of Ho Chi Minh. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Cong ruled over Vietnam and its people with absolute power. Soon after my Mom's dad was released from the communist reform prison for fighting along with the Americans in South Vietnam, her family decided to escape out of Vietnam by boat to the Pacific Ocean hoping to run across help in international waters. Unfortunately, they were tricked by many people who would take their money but would never show up with a boat. After numerous failed attempts to escape, the family decided to split up in which my Mom and her sister would travel with their uncle. Later on, my Mom was able to escape on a boat that held around thirty people. After four days and five nights at sea, they were rescued by an American oil rig when their boat was damaged in a storm. The next day, they were transferred onto a supply ship headed to Malaysia. Finally, after staying at the Pulau Bidong refugee camp for four months, they were sponsored over to the U.S. by her aunt. Eventually, they arrived in Seattle, Washington and later moved to Mobile, Alabama. Following that, my Mom started her education in the 7th grade and ended up in the top six of her class. Later on, she was reunited with the rest of her family after nine years of separation from her Mom and Dad and went on to get a Pharmacy degree at Auburn University where she met my Dad. Along with my Dad, my Mom is very appreciative of the freedom and opportunity to live a new life and to be able to earn an education while living under a government that cares for the well-being and protection of its citizens.

The American Creed is a statement that should reside in all the American people's beliefs. It is built along the founding principles of America's government and Constitution and overall is a guideline to which we should follow as citizens of this country. My parent's personal experiences with corrupt governments strengthens their belief in the American Creed even more and in a United States government that is dedicated to the equal protection of all Americans and upholding the liberties granted to us by the Constitution. After hearing the stories of my parents and their journey to America, it makes me especially thankful for the opportunity that I have to be able to get an education, to embrace the freedoms and rights given to us, and to ultimately be an American.

Published on May 8, 2019
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Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

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