Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

Seattle Vietnamese Community Hopes For Recognition Of Pre-War Flag

Kim-Long Nguyen displays the national flag of Vietnam prior to the war.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones
Kim-Long Nguyen displays the national flag of Vietnam prior to the war.

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.


Year started with KUOW: 2006