WESTMINSTER, California—Representative Jose Solorio visited Little Saigon on 28 October 2011 to share Governor Jerry Brown’s official recognition of resilience, freedom, and democracy important to the Vietnamese American community in California.
Such resilience, freedom, and democracy are symbolized in the Vietnamese Freedom and Heritage Flag, the flag of the former Republic of Vietnam, dating back to 1948, with three red stripes on a yellow background.
Representative Solorio told the media that Governor Brown’s decision to continue State recognition of the flag during his first term in office revealed Governor Brown’s commitment to the Vietnamese American community.
In fact, rather than a quick, emailed response agreeing to continue recognizing the flag, Representative Solorio told the media that Governor Brown took the time to craft a thoughtful statement about the flag and its meaning to the Vietnamese American community.
“The Vietnamese American community has made positive contributions to the historical, cultural, educational and economic prosperity of California,” Representative Solorio read Governor Brown’s words to the media. “Vietnamese Americans remain vigilant in opposing tyranny of all forms, actively supporting human rights for all people, and celebrating the principles of democracy, justice, and tolerance upon which our nation was founded.”
Gaining, keeping recognition
Representative Solorio told the media that he began helping Governor Brown better understand the need to continue California’s recognition of the Vietnamese Freedom and Heritage Flag since the beginning of 2011.
In 2006, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Executive Order S-14-06, which allowed the flag to be displayed on State building property holding California-sponsored, Vietnamese-American ceremonial events.
On 25 October 2011, Governor Brown answered Representative Solorio’s recognition request, on behalf of Vietnamese Americans in Orange County (OC).
The reply was yes!
“I know how important it is that the Freedom and Heritage Flag is recognized as the symbol of the Vietnamese-American community in California, because it represents freedom, democracy, unity and hope,” Representative Solorio was quoted in a press release on 28 October 2011.
Though, this is not Representative Solorio’s first successful attempt in gaining recognition on behalf of Vietnamese Americans in California. In April 2011, the California Legislature unanimously passed Representative Solorio and Senator Lou Correa’s co-authored ACR 40, which recognizes April as Vietnamese American Month.
ACR 63, co-authored by Representatives Solorio and Allan Mansoor, recognizes June 19, 2011 as the Veterans of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Services Day and was also unanimously passed in June 2011.
The resolution also recognizes the last week in April as Black April Memorial Week, a time to remember the pain and sacrifice experienced as a result of the Fall of Saigon in 1975.
Ms. Kim Nguyễn, Field Representative for Representative Solorio, told the Viễn Đông that the general public, outside the Vietnamese American community, is not usually aware of the current situation in Vietnam or what the Vietnamese Freedom and Heritage Flag represents.
“They don’t think much about it,” she said, adding that Governor Brown’s recognition of the flag will contribute in educating people about the flag and its symbolism.
On 27 October 2011, Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California President Neil Nguyễn issued a statement thanking Governor Brown for recognizing the flag.
“We tirelessly continue our efforts to promote freedom and democracy and to condemn the suppression of human and civil rights to the Vietnamese people by the current Communist regime,” the statement read.
Over 80 cities, including Westminster and Garden Grove, have recognized the Vietnamese Freedom and Heritage Flag to symbolize the contributions of Vietnamese Americans in their cities. California has joined states like Hawaii, Louisiana, Ohio, and Michigan in also recognizing such contributions though adoption of the flag.
There are over 183,000 Vietnamese Americans living in OC, an increase of over 35 percent since the year 2000. Southern California has over 300,000 Vietnamese American residents, while California has nearly 600,000. By 2030, Vietnamese Americans are projected to be the largest Asian American subgroup in California.
The United States has close to 2 million Vietnamese Americans residents, many of them recognizing the Vietnamese Freedom and Heritage Flag, finding offense in the current Socialist Republic of Vietnam flag as a symbol for their ancestral country.
Thought to considerNow that the Vietnamese Freedom Heritage Flag will continue to be recognized in California, how much education will be taught about the flag’s symbolism? Will your community contribute to providing such education? If so, how so?