Monday kicks off Veterans Week and in Huntsville many came together to honor the anniversary of the Vietnam War.
There’s one point of view that in decades some Vietnam veterans have never heard from, but did Monday. Less often are they thanked by someone from Vietnam who escaped the country during the war. Thanh Duong Boyer calls the veterans her personal heroes.
Boyer was 12 years old when she escaped Vietnam with some relatives on an overcrowded boat of 400 people.
“While we were at sea we were robbed by pirates and they left us to die out at sea, but we survived,” Boyer said.
She made it to Indonesia, which was hard.
“There was many nights we had to go to bed hungry,” she said.
Fourteen years later Boyer was sponsored to Athens, Alabama. That was now almost 40 years ago, but it’s fresh in her mind and because of the memoir she wrote, it’s fresh in the minds of Vietnam veterans too.
“I want them to know, to hear ‘thank you’ from the other side,’ to say, ‘welcome home,'” Boyer said. “Especially our Vietnam veterans, they are dear to my heart. And so when this book was put together it is dedicated to them.”
The proceeds from her memoir go to a local veterans group.
“It gives you some sense of ‘well it was worth it’ or ‘I’m glad I did it,'” said Vietnam Veteran Vick Robertson.
The history of what they went through is also being taught through a Vietnam era veteran’s collection.
“Beef with spice sauce, that’s one of my favorites,” said Ed Kennedy, holding a can. “I had to take this can and cut it open ’cause it was eating the can, it was rotting the can. It’s pretty toxic stuff, but I liked it. I thought it tasted pretty good.”
“I had Thanksgiving meal out of that,” another man said.
“They need to get an appreciation for what their grandparents or what their dads did,” said Kennedy about teaching younger generations about the war. “This was tough living and these people made a sacrifice.”
For Boyer that sacrifice has long been understood.
“It feels really good to be in a room full of my heroes,” she said.
Tears usually fill the eyes of the Vietnam veterans she thanks.
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