The Viet Nam War, like other wars in human history, entered the American consciousness and remains a bewilderment for our generation. The war divided America, Viet Nam, the public, and many families. It brought tears, bloodshed, suffering, hatred, anger, chaos, and destruction. Many books have been written and movies have been made to reflect various viewpoints and opinions. But, few books have been written from an eye-witness, survivor perspective. Viet—the central character of this memoir—witnessed the end of the war and lived many years under the Communist regime.
My name is Rev. Peter G. Vu, and I have served as a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan for 20 years. I was born in Saigon City (currently Ho Chi Minh City), Viet Nam. I was a young boy when the Viet Nam War ended. I witnessed the war and the end of it with great horror and deep appreciation for peace. I grew up with the Communist government system and endured significant hardships for more than a decade. What helped me and many of my countrymen tremendously during those dark days was our faith and prayers. Hence, my love for Prayers and Meditations blossomed. Also, I was able to learn and exchange new ideas for Prayers and Mediations with many of my Buddhist friends. We got along quite well despite our different faith traditions. After high school, I escaped by boat and came to the United States of America to begin my seminary training. I attended one year of high school here in the USA (Union High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan) to learn the language and new culture. I attended Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan for two years while staying at Christopher House Seminary. Then, the Seminary sent me to attend my last two years of college at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. I graduated with a double major: Mathematics and Philosophy. I then attended graduate school at the University of St. Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, Illinois for five years. I graduated and was ordained with the Master’s Degree of Divinity (MDiv) and the Sacred Theology Baccalaureate (STB).
“One, two, three,” a boy facing a wall with his eyes closed keeps counting. His friends scatter looking for a place to hide in the neighborhood where they grew up together and knew everyone so well. There are occasional giggles and whisperings as this group of kids tries to keep themselves well hidden from the counting boy, who seems oblivious to all the fun his friends are enjoying. His voice seems to pick up with a faster pace as he says, “…seventeen, eighteen, nineteen.” A few slackers speed up with their search for the best hiding places, but change their minds at the last minute and decide to go home to hide instead. That is probably the best hiding place of all. Even the most seasoned detective cannot find them there.
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