Much like Batman’s appointment in Crime Alley,
April 30th holds a very special significance to the Vietnamese refugee population around the world. Often referred to as “Black April” or “The Day We Lost Our Country,” it is the anniversary of the fall of Saigon, when the communist army entered the Vietnamese capital, American forces withdrew from the war, and the Vietnamese government surrendered.
Vietnamese people are fiercely nationalistic. I suppose that comes from bring oppressed for much of our history. I grew up learning patriotic anthems and listening to folk tales about resistance fighters struggling against the 1,000 years of Chinese tyranny and 100 years of French colonialism. When I went to Vietnamese school as a child, the school motto was, “As long as we keep our language, we keep our culture. As long as we keep our culture, we keep our country.” At an International Viet Youth Conference I attended, when a friend of mine was asked, “Where do you live?”, his reply was, “I am staying in Australia at the moment, but my home is in Vietnam.” At my grandfather’s funeral service, during my father’s eulogy, he mentioned that my grandfather’s fervent wish was to see a free Vietnam, if not during his lifetime, then during his children’s or his grandchildren’s.
Sadly, I find myself doubting the likelihood of that wish coming to pass. No one in my generation (in my family, anyway) is as involved as my grandfather or my father was in Viet activism. In fact, most of my generation has trouble with keeping the language alive, let alone the culture or the country. My own Vietnamese language skills have dropped since I stopped going to Viet school, and while I can still hold a conversation, I do not believe I could teach the next generation. More than that, I find that many of my generation, unlike my friend from the conference, think of ourselves as Americans with a Vietnamese background rather than Vietnamese residing in America. I think my grandfather and my father must know this at some level, because we have had family talks about how my generation tends to think in English and translate into Vietnamese instead of the other way around. It seems like such a little difference, but actually is of fundamental importance. Language shapes perception, as is often demonstrated with Eskimo words for snow.
It makes me wonder if Batman ever wonders about his legacy. Sure, there can never be a ultimate victory against or surrender to crime, and you cannot truly move away from crime. But will future Batmen be as unrelenting as Bruce Wayne?