Gratitude for your sacrifice

Veterans' Day Message 11/11/2007

Gratitude for your sacrifice

On this Veterans’ Day, 2007, you, the veterans of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Viet-Nam, will receive much deserved praise and appreciation from your family, your community, and your American allies. Of course we know that there can never be enough praise for the sacrifices and heroism each of you has displayed on and off the battlefield. However, you must know that a very special group of people wishes to pay tribute to you. We know that the praise you respect most comes from fellow warriors. So, I humbly ask that you allow me, a United States Air Force veteran, and the proud son of an ARVN infantryman, to share some thoughts with you on what you mean to us Vietnamese-American service-members.

Legacy & Honor

I cannot claim to speak on behalf of all Vietnamese-Americans who have served in the United States armed forces. In fact, it is difficult to even get an accurate count of the hundreds of Vietnamese in uniform who are serving or have served in the armed forces of the United States and other democratic Western nations. However, I can give you an idea of what kind of legacy you have created. We range in rank from Private to Colonel, and will have our first Vietnamese-American general one day very soon. At this very moment, many of your sons and daughters are fighting extremists in the streets of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. In fact, eight young Vietnamese-Americans have given the ultimate sacrifice since the Global War on Terror began. There are young Vietnamese-Americans flying jet fighters high above the earth, commanding ships in every ocean, rebuilding foreign armies and poor villages in devastated lands, and leading young Americans into combat. We all share a singular purpose: to protect the freedoms enjoyed by Americans everywhere. We know that many of you feel that history has robbed us of the chance to defend a democratic Vietnam. We also know that many others would not even want us to face the suffering of war at all.

However, we want you to know that we are all very proud of your legacy. Like you, we are patriots. Like you, we have answered the call of destiny. Our success today is a direct result of your actions. Your valor in combat, your suffering in re-education camps, and your leadership in guiding your family to opportunities in a foreign land have shown us the true evil of war and the truer value of freedom. You must know that though we defend the flag, wear the uniform, and wield the weapons of the United States, we carry in our hearts a Vietnamese warrior heritage that stretches back for four thousand years.
Your honor is in good hands.

History & Destiny

History has judged you harshly. Yet whatever critics say of Vietnamese politics, they must know the fundamental truth that a soldier’s dignity is beyond politics. I am fortunate enough to know the truth because my late father, Đinh Văn Nguyên, worked tirelessly through the Tổng Hội Võ Bị Đà Lạt, to teach me and the world about your courage. Now the tides of history are turning in your favor. The creation of an exhibit in the US Army Museum, a renewed look at history by a new generation of Vietnamese-American and American scholars, the sweeping momentum of liberal democracies around the world, and the stirrings of change in Vietnam itself will all serve to vindicate your legacy. Most importantly, the lessons your children and their descendants will pass on to future generations will preserve the truth of your great deeds. We will explore future initiatives such as burials with ARVN military honors, accountability for those missing in action, dignified memorials for ARVN sacrifices, oral histories, museum projects, and other ways to begin a meaningful process of reconciliation. We shall continue the fight for the values you hold dear.

There have been many years of sorrow and anger. But I ask you now, các bác, các chú, các anh, to stand tall and be proud. We thank you as your sons and daughters. We thank you as citizens of a free society. And most importantly, we honor you as fellow warriors.
Rest easy tired soldiers—today is your day.
We salute you.
You are our Greatest Generation and we will never let the world forget it.

Thanh “Tino” N.
Đinh Tino (
USAF Academy graduate-1999,
former Captain, US Air Force,
Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom