Seattle Vietnamese Community Hopes For Recognition Of Pre-War Flag
Vietnam’s national flag is an icon of communism. And many Vietnamese-Americans say it does not represent them.
Seattle’s Vietnamese community has long wanted official status for the country’s old flag. That day could be near. On Wednesday afternoon, a Seattle City Council committee will take up a resolution to recognize this heritage flag.
If it passes, the full council will likely vote on it June 22.
Vietnam’s current flag shows a yellow star on a sea of red. And when Kim-Long Nguyen looks at it…
Nguyen: "Somehow I feel like it just looks like the blood."
But when he sees the flag from before the war – a yellow one with red stripes...
Nguyen: "I feel very peaceful."
Nguyen is president of the Vietnamese Mutual Assistance Association, a Seattle-based nonprofit.
He was part of an effort in 2004 to get King County to recognize this pre-communist era flag. It failed, he says, because of political concerns about relations with Vietnam.
Now, this issue is before the Seattle City Council. Councilmembers will consider a resolution to recognize this heritage flag as the official symbol of the city’s Vietnamese community.
Nguyen says this simple act would mean a great deal, especially to veteran families.
Nguyen: "They have a son, brother, husband, sister who passed away in Vietnam. They know that they [were] fighting for freedom and they'll not be forgot."
Nguyen is a veteran, too. He lost his father in the war and came here alone as a refugee.
Nguyen: "I feel that we lost everything. Only thing now is memory."
One place you can see the yellow flag of pre-war Vietnam is on a busy stretch of Rainier Avenue in South Seattle. It’s hoisted up alongside the American flag.
Reporter: "What does it mean to you to see these two flags side by side?"
Nguyen: "Side by side -- that means friendship. And it reminds me a lot of when we have fighting for freedom together in Vietnam.
Nguyen sees this flag as an enduring symbol of a more peaceful time. And it will always represent him.