I grew up with this flag: yellow, three simple red stripes through the middle. This is the flag I glued onto all my little heritage posters and about-me boxes in elementary school. To me, this flag was Vietnam.
And I was correct in thinking that. Vietnam is where my Daddy’s side of the family comes from, and Daddy has made sure that I know he comes from this flag.
It happened that one day in my later years of elementary school, I was looking through an index of flags in a world atlas and came across Vietnam. The flag I saw was red with a single yellow star in the center. I was so confused—this was not my flag. This was not my Daddy’s flag, the flag I grew up with. I checked and double-checked the atlas, I questioned my classmates, and eventually I asked my Daddy. He explained the war, that our flag was from the South, and that the South lost.
Technically, there is no North and South Vietnam any more; Vietnam is one country united under the Northern flag. But I understand why my Daddy had not told me this before. That red flag with the yellow star is not the one that flew over his childhood home in Vietnam; it is not the one he grew up with. My Daddy’s side of the family is from South Vietnam: yellow, three simple red stripes through the middle. To me, this flag is still Vietnam.
~Melanie Nguyen, Alameda High School.
Melanie will be a senior this fall at Alameda High.