Throughout its millennia-long history punctuated by invasion, occupation, and war, the Vietnamese people have accomplished an unparalleled feat: they managed to retain their culture and their sovereignty.
This is in diametrically opposed and tragic contrast to the Native American tribes of New England the seeds of whose destruction were sown beginning with intermittent contact with murderous, disease-ridden, and slave-trading European explorers and elevated to a foregone conclusion with the arrival of the Mayflower in November 1620 and the Great Puritan Migration that followed.
This ignominious history is not only academic but also intensely personal, as I am both a permanent resident of Vietnam and a direct and collateral descendant of settler-colonizers, both saints and strangers, who arrived in their New World in 1610 and 1620. If they hadn’t been there at that fleeting moment in history, I wouldn’t be here in this unique genetic form. That said, it is a painful reality that gives me pause.