Nearly 40 years after the fall of Saigon to communist rule, the flag of South Vietnam (a canary yellow with three bright maroon red lines down its center) is omnipresent throughout Orange County’s Little Saigon community. It flies right alongside the American flag.
“What the Vietnamese people feel for their flag is never-ending. It’s something beautiful to behold,” said Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) to the Los Angeles Times. The flag’s official name is the Vietnamese American Freedom and Heritage Flag. For Vietnamese-born merchant Hung Vu, who owns R.V.N. Uniform & Decorations shop in Westminister, “This is what represents us as Vietnamese people. We are proud of who we are, and no one can take away our beliefs.”
The flag is also seen as an intrinsic part of political life in the region. Politicians, regardless of ethnicity, will pass the flags out during functions being held in the area. Orange County’s Little Saigon is deemed both the largest Little Saigon in the nation and the largest and oldest Vietnamese community in America.
This weekend, the American flag was set on fire in Hollywood by protesters who took part in a “Black Lives Matter” rally that has been causing disruption and chaos throughout the nation.
The South Vietnam flag was ousted and replaced by the current flag of Vietnam after the war, which claimed over two million lives and resulted in the combining of the divided nation into one. However, migrants to California’s Little Saigon still sport that flag proudly on their lapels, in front of their homes, and at their places of work.
The Times writes that displaying today’s Vietnamese flag, or any icon associated with the Communist regime that overthrew South Vietnam, is a near-traitorous act in the patriotic community, and that anyone perceived as dishonoring the flag will be subjected to harassment, protests, and even boycotts. “We are faithful to what we love,” another Vietnamese American told the Times.
The Vietnam War was portrayed by the mainstream media in America as having been a wildly unpopular failure at home, but The “Forrest Gump” view of history is wrong. Yet, that narrative is still echoed throughout the world today.
Adelle Nazarian is on Twitter @AdelleNaz