Nguyễn Tan Tri video oral history interview and transcript
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AuthorNguyễn Tan Tri
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.
Nguyễn Tấn Trí was born in Châu Đóc in 1945. For generations, his family has lived in Chau Doc, so he, too, spent most of his life here. He attended law school in Saigon and went on to be a teacher at a middle school and a principal at a high school in Chau Doc. Tri received his law degree and began practicing law in Saigon in 1972. He was not personally involved in the war, however, his three brothers were all drafted so he became the only son in the family left, which disqualifies him for future military drafts. Tri has 6 siblings--3 brothers and 3 sisters. Tri recalls the simple and peaceful lifestyle in Chau Doc. There was a very strong anti-communist sentiment in the area, making it difficult for communist presence. Most people, like his family, made their living in Chau Doc from farming. Tri married in 1968 and had 4 children; 1 passed away very early In 1975 with the Fall of Saigon, Tri was in Chau Doc. Because Tri was a professor and an active member in anti-communist activity (he had been actively involved in politics since his twentys), he was arrested by the Viet Cong on political violation grounds. When Tri was released, he immediately took his family into Saigon to live with relatives. Chau Doc was unstable at this time; anyone could be imprisoned at any time.Tri and his family left Vietnam in March of 1978. In the 3 years that they lived under the rule of Viet Cong, Tri taught and his wife took on small jobs to pass time until they were able to vuot bien. Tri says he had to leave Vietnam; he could not stand to live under the oppression of Viet Cong and the lifestyle they forced onto the people. Tri and his family took a bus from Saigon to Ca Mau, and from Ca Mau, they took a very small boat called a "ghe" to Malaysia. In the weeks before their expedition, Tri had to pretend to be a market seller selling fruits on the boat to explore the port and the water. Thirty to fourty hours after departing Ca Mau, the family arrived at a Malaysian refugee camp. They remained at the camp for 3 months before leaving for the United States. Tri was easily allowed to go to the US because before 1975, Tri had already received official permission to immigrate to the US. After his arrival to the United States, Tri and his family settled at Virginia where his brother-in-law lived and worked as a medical doctor. Tri's first job was a dish washer at a nearby restaurant. He admits that he was very poor but very content. Today, although he is still not wealthy, he is very happy with his life. Tri moved to Houston and opened his own convenience store. In 1993, Tri returned to Vietnam to form a political party as attempt to reform the government. He was promptly arrested by Viet Cong forces and charged with intent to overhtrow the government. Tri was released in 1995 after the United States interfered on his behalf. Tri has since been banned from entering Vietnam and has not been able to visit. When asked about his opinion about the US involvement in the Vietnam War, Tri responds that he does not believe the US was truly helping Vietnam. Though he is sincerely grateful for everything the US had tried to do for Vietnam, he believe that if the US had supported Vietnam differently, especially by providing enough supplies and ammunition to match those of North Vietnam, South Vietnam would have easily won. He admits that South Vietnam needed the US' help; he just wished the US had helped differently. He thought that the US presence in Vietnam changed the culture of the Vietnamese people; it became ingenuine. Today, Tri serves as vice president of a political organization campaigning for freedom and democracy for Vietnam. However, he is disappointed in the lack of unity among the overseas Vietnamese communities and wants this to change if we have any hope in overthrowing the Viet Cong government. He wants to encourage young generations of Vietnamese people to continue fighting for freedom and democracy for Vietnam and to not give up in their mission.
Citable link to this pagehttp://hdl.handle.net/1911/71263
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