Photo: Han Nguyen
My journey to America started two generations before I was born. At the turn of the last century, my grandfather fought hard to defeat French colonists only to see his ancestral homeland in the Northern Vietnam replaced by Communism. He yearned for freedom and dreamed of a better life for his family, so he packed everything up, put my infant father onto an ox-wagon and walked southward.
Fast forward. It was my now adult father fighting for freedom alongside the Americans. Post-war, he was sent to a ‘re-education’ camp, leaving my mother and my siblings homeless, dividing our family. Our family was reunited 10 years later.
In America, my family began rebuilding life in a East Oakland housing project. Despite many challenges, my parents held on strongly to their unshakable faith in America—a land of opportunity where hard work pays off. My siblings and I worked hard to get ahead—we went to public schools and focused on studying hard. I knew that a good education was the only way out of poverty. Because of the many opportunities available to me through public education, and because I was willing to work hard, today, I am a graduate of Georgetown University and work with some of the best companies in my industry.
I am here because someone before me overcame hardship at the immigration counters, erased hatred at the drinking fountains, and shattered the glass ceiling and swung open the doors of opportunity. The American Dream is intrinsically woven into our national fabric; it’s our special and shared responsibility that we all carry forward together as a civilized and free society.
Like countless immigrants who came to these shores, we all hold onto a simple notion: America is a land of opportunity, where hard work and personal responsibility is rewarded. But the American Dream must be continuously nourished, invested in, and safeguarded for the next generation. Education must be affordable so we can train the workforce of the future; the decision to be healthy should never force a family into bankruptcy; and comprehensive immigration reform is a necessity to keep families together and make our communities stronger—these form the foundation of an America built to last.
I support President Obama’s efforts to help those who are willing to work hard to achieve success, and I will stand by him to move our country forward. Come this September in Charlotte, as a National Delegate representing Virginia, I will be voting for President Obama to stand up for our core American values, to defend and reinvigorate the American Dream for all. This is my American story.