Doan Quoc Sy video oral history interview and transcript
AuthorDoan Quoc Sy
This recording and transcript form part of a collection of oral history interviews conducted by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation and donated to the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University. This collection includes video recordings of interviews with Vietnamese Americans native to or living in Texas. This interview forms part of the national 500 Oral Histories Project conducted by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation.
Doan Quốc Sỹ was born in Hà Đông, Vietnam and grew up 6 km from Hanoi. He was a university professor at the colleges of literature, Buddhism religion, and education. He is also a writer, having published around 20 works; his most well-known publication is a memoir titled "Khu Rung Lau" written about the Vietnamese campaign against the French domination. Sy attended grade school in Hanoi. He remembers teasing his teacher Professor Vũ Đình Liên during recess by reciting the teacher's most famous poem "Ông Đồ Già." During his life, he also worked the military headquarters, "Bộ Tổng Thông Mưu" where he translated French literature and manuscripts. During the time of war between Vietnam and France, Sy claims that the country just needed a leader to fight the French, which at the time was Ho Chi Minh. People followed the Viet Minh campaign because the truth about the communist Viet Cong had not been apparent yet. He himself was a member of the Viet Minh organization "Thanh Nien Cuu Nuoc" (Young People For the Country). Sy in fact was an fervent follower of the Viet Minh, but he decided to leave the group just as fervently when he realized the truth about the Viet Cong and that he would never be able to live with them in power. The Viet Cong forces had killed Sy's aunt. Sy was 31 years old when Vietnam was divided. He moved to South Vietnam by air. He recalls the South Vietnamese being extremely welcoming; there was no discrimination at all, he says. While in the South, Sy partnered with a few other journalists and writers to found the "Sáng Tảo" magazine that was printed and sold before 1975. Sy was later arrested on the grounds of "Văn Nghệ Sỹ Phạn Động," which is "Artists Rebellion". He was in prison for 4 years before being released. However, when Sy sent his writing to France to be published, the Viet Cong intelligence tracked his actions and arrested him again. This time, he was in prison for 8 1/2 years. He notes that because his family sent him food regularly, his health did not suffer, and he never experienced any beatings. After he was released from prison, Sy had plans to come to America through the H.O. program, however, his children who were able to leave Vietnam and establish residency in the United States decided to sponsor him instead. Sy has 8 children, 4 songs and 4 daughters; they all now reside in California. Those that escaped from Vietnam first did so by boat. Today, Sy has 15-16 grandchildren. A piece of advice Sy has for his own children and other young generations: "Viet Cong cannot be trusted."