The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


An unfair political weapon

 An unfair political weapon
An unfair political weapon

An unfair political weapon

Yesterday, I stood outside the Hughes-Trigg commons to listen tothe SMU Republicans and Democrats debate the fast-approachingpresidential election. When one of the debaters for the Democratsbrought up Lyndon B. Johnson and Vietnam, my mind suddenly wanderedback to a few days before the first presidential debate in Miami. Iwas having a political discussion with my mother that day.

“It bothers me whenever [the media] brings upVietnam,” she told me.

She was talking about attacks from all sides on Kerry’sMarine Corps service and Bush’s National Guard service duringthe Vietnam War.

You’ll have to understand something about my mother. Shewas born and raised in the great city that was once Saigon.

She grew up to gradually see the French move out and theAmericans slowly move in. She lived down the street from thebombings and the random killings.

She had to see my grandparents bury my teenage uncle when he wasshot on the street by a sniper.

She had to see my college-aged uncle pulled from his studies toserve in the South Vietnamese army.

But whenever she talked of home, she mostly spoke of the gooddays.

She said when she was in elementary school, she loved to see theAmerican soldiers that passed out after-school treats to all theschool children.

She told me a story of when she was in high school and washelping my grandmother at the family grocery store. A Frenchsoldier asked her what were all the good things to buy. She pointedout her favorite sweets and packaged them up for him, delighted atthe big sale. He paid and gave the package back to her, saying inhis broken Vietnamese that it was for her to enjoy.

She also told me stories of my younger uncle. He used to getinto trouble with my grandfather when he would do things like takeapart his bicycle and not know how to put it back together.

He used to also take his younger sisters for rides on his moped.It was hard to keep a white ao dai (a traditional Vietnamese dress)clean whenever they raced through the dusty streets.

My mother says he was rebellious and free-spirited. Iwould’ve liked him a lot.

She talked about her pet birds that were killed by a cat. Shetalked about my grandfather’s horrible English but perfectFrench. She talked about the Beatles, grape soda and the man shewould’ve married had she not been betrothed to my father.

Despite the difficult times, Mom said she was happy inVietnam.

But in 1975, she was my age when her neighborhood received thecall to evacuate the city. One change of clothes, they had toldher. That was all she could bring to the refugee camps that wereawaiting her and her family in California.

“It bothers me,” she had told me, “that theycompare Iraq to Vietnam.”

That was a different era, she said. That was a differentwar.

And that was a different president.

It bothered me, too.

It bothered me because both parties seemed to use that criticalhistoric event as a shield to hide behind or ammunition to attackthe other party.

But amid all the mudslinging, I voted yesterday for the firsttime in a general election.

I voted for the issues I believed in and the candidates that Ifeel support my views most.

And I voted because I’ve come a long way, throughgenerations of wars and across entire oceans and continents, for achance to raise my voice loud enough for my ancestors to hear.


Christine Dao is a senior journalism major. She may becontacted at [email protected].

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