Voices of Vietnam documentary: A Lost Homeland

Vietnamese refugees
Thousand of people fled Vietnam by boat after the war ended in 1975, 3800 of whom resettled in Minnesota. In this photo from November 1977, Vietnamese refugees watch as a Thai Marine police boat casts them adrift in the Gulf of Siam after being turned away. They had escaped earlier in November from Vietnam to what they thought would be freedom, but Thai police refused to allow them to come ashore.
Eddie Adams | Associated Press

A documentary about the Vietnamese refugees who fled their country after the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. The documentary is called "A Lost Homeland." It was produced as part of With Good Reason Radio's "Voices of Vietnam" series, in Charlottesville, Va.

The Fall of Saigon marked the bitter end of the war in Vietnam and the loss of a homeland for hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people.

This program features stories of the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops, along with heroic rescues and harrowing escapes of Vietnamese citizens.

Some of the Vietnam War's most enduring legacies are the Vietnamese communities of America, made up of refugees who arrived en masse after the Fall of Saigon. This program explores how these communities became a key to economic success for refugees, and how many still grappled with the complexities of gratitude, guilt and silence.

With help from the Nixon White House tapes, Marc Selverstone, of the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs, discloses the president's true intentions in ending the war in Vietnam, and Admiral Pete Bondi recalls the chaos on the ground as North Vietnamese troops systematically overtook the southern provinces almost three years later.

Lieu Nguyen describes her family's death-defying journey to freedom, and Capt. Paul Jacobs hails the humanitarian efforts of the U.S. Navy, involving dramatic rescues at sea. Finally, Phu Nguyen talks about life under communist rule after the Fall of Saigon, revealing that, regardless of one's ability to escape, everyone in South Vietnam lost their homeland on April 30, 1975.

While Thuy Dinh, Toa Do, and Lieu Nguyen describe small but meaningful details of life in their new Virginia community of "Little Saigon," author Phuong Nguyen discusses the American systems in place to assist refugees and the conflicting feelings of gratitude and guilt associated with their rescue.

Thanh Tan talks of countering her father's opinion on immigration using his own story of escape and asylum, and Kim Delevett travels to Vietnam for a homecoming she never expected. Plus, music plays a pivotal role in telling the complex stories of refugees and connects a new generation with the past.

Supported by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota was significantly involved in the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees in Minnesota after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Other Minnesota organizations that were involved in resettlement at that time included Catholic Charities, Jewish Family Services, World Relief, and the International Institute. There are now estimated to be about 23,000 Minnesotans of Vietnamese heritage, according to U.S. Census Bureau's 2017 population estimates.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.