How the Cold War Fused Exile and American Identity

In California's Orange County, Vietnamese Refugees Rewrote a Tragic Defeat by Finding a Home in the U.S.

Thirty years ago, the small city of Westminster, California, held a grand yet understated indoor ceremony at the Asian Garden Mall to unveil the Little Saigon freeway sign. Governor George Deukmejian performed the ceremony to officially recognize the largest diasporic Vietnamese enclave as a Special Tourist Zone. He called it “a major cultural, social and commercial center.”

Ethnic enclaves are commonplace in the United States, but this announcement felt like an epic diplomatic triumph against all odds, because it put the name “Saigon” back on the map. Several months after …

More In: Vietnam War

I Never Dreamed I Would End up Homeless

Isolated, Anxious, and Distrustful, I Fell Out of Sync With Society

In my training to go fight in Vietnam, we lived and breathed these mottos: “Once a Marine, always a Marine” and “Marines never quit.”

Intensive therapy at the Veterans Affairs …

Gaining Ground in the Battle with My Memories of Vietnam

Baseball, Faith, and Helping Others Gave Me Hope and Control Over My Life

In the mid- to late-1980s, I spent a lot of time at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus. I used to watch the sunsets from a sixth floor balcony …

The Town I Loved, the Protestor I Became

My Wonderful 1950s Childhood Inspired Me to Oppose the Vietnam War

If you want a classic portrait of middle Americana in the middle of the 20th century, you had to look no farther than my hometown of Rialto, in inland Southern …

My Uncle’s Years of Living Dangerously

Serving as Translator and Tour Guide for a Veteran Battling Schizophrenia

My 69-year-old uncle Henry gazed into the jaws of the Natural History Museum’s biggest celebrity, Thomas the T. rex, who was frozen in a silent roar.

I asked Henry, “How do …

Orange County Was Not Immune to the 1960s

Photographs and Memories Reveal the Darker Side of a Symbol of Postwar Suburban Order

The Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California bills itself as “the first great metropolitan park of the 21st century,” but until recently it was the Marine Corps Air Station …