The Freedom Archives contains many materials on the Vietnam liberation struggle, the antiwar movement, and the worldwide impact of the Vietnam’s defeat of US imperialism. Fifty years ago, in July 1972, the Union of Vietnamese in the U.S. was formed, shortly after the murder of Nguyen Thai Binh, a Vietnamese student who came to study in the United States during the U.S. war against his homeland. Increasingly articulate and active in antiwar protests, following his graduation from the University of Washington the US government cancelled his visa. He attempted to divert an airliner to Hanoi to call attention to his people’s cause but was brutally shot and killed. He was known as a sincere and committed idealist with a gentle personality and love of children. His name, Thai Binh, means peace, sometimes translated as “peace won through struggle.”
As producers of the programs now in the Archives, we put representatives of the Union on the air at KPFA, assisted with a memorial for Thai Binh in San Francisco, and helped with a number of cultural programs. We treasure the friendship and solidarity.
The Union also worked with Peoples Press in San Francisco to publish a book of poetry in Vietnamese and English. The book is contained within the new Freedom Archives building in Berkeley and there are many illustrations inside interspersed with the poems. The closing poem, “Legacy,” by Nguyen Thai Binh includes these lines:
All must be for the homeland Today with respect I give it gratitude And committing myself to the end I resolve to march forward.
Another poem, “Mother My Heart” by Tran Quang Long, ends:
… Mother, I know My heart is poetry My heart is forest, is mountain Is rice, is corn Is orange, is grapefruit Is the past, is the future Is misery, is happiness Is the struggle, is the resilience My heart belongs to the people Who dare write their history on earth With their own blood.
Memorial to Nguyen Thai Binh by Lincoln Bergman (originally written 1972) Red Blue Yellow Candle Flame My name Is Thai Binh In Vietnamese Thai Binh Means Peace My parents Gave me that name To express The deepest aspiration Of our heroic nation People of the World My name Is Thai Binh Though I may die We shall win People of the World Take aim Raise the flag of liberation Red blue yellow Candle flame