The first American president Hoang Lam’s family ever supported was Ronald Reagan.
Reagan’s conservative principles and staunch opposition to communism were echoed by the Lams’ real-world experience in coming to America as refugees from Vietnam.
I first encountered Hoang on Twitter, and we quickly agreed to speak by phone. We learned we had a common background in the fossil fuel industry and a shared belief in those fuels being essential to our nation’s future.
Hoang and his wife Margy now host the popular podcast “Defining Moments” — an upbeat show filled with positive energy. A recent episode featured Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.
Hoang drew me in with his positive, uplifting tweets, often using the hashtag #undefeated.
It was only after we had our second phone conversation that I learned his hashtag is an homage to his parent’s harrowing journey across the Pacific Ocean.
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In 1975, newlyweds Minh and Kim Lam had no formal education, no money, and no food or supplies. They were so desperate, Minh’s father urged his young son and daughter-in-law to get into a fishing trawler in the dark of night for a long journey by sea to a foreign land.
The alternative — remaining in their homeland — was an even larger risk than crossing an ocean in a rickety vessel unfit for traveling more than a mile or two from shore.
Minh’s father decided the risk of drowning at sea was preferable to watching his family suffer at the hands of the murderous communists from the north who had taken over his formerly democratic country.
The Vietcong, like all godless totalitarians, killed with impunity in the name of power and control. As Minh’s father pushed the young couple into the trawler he knew he would never see them again.
Crammed together with a handful of other desperate souls, Minh and Kim’s boat floated aimlessly at sea for several days. Just before a storm could capsize their tiny vessel, they were miraculously spotted by a United States Navy cargo ship and rescued.
They were provided food and water, and those passengers that needed it were given medical care.
The couple ended up in a refugee facility and were later transferred to America, landing at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. There, the young couple were provided with temporary housing along with hot meals. All the while, the young couple were left wondering if their father could have possibly survived the totalitarians.
Pretty soon, a local church found out about the Vietnamese refugees at the facility. A couple from that church paid for Minh and Kim Lam to come to Oklahoma where they were given something beyond food and shelter — Christian compassion.
Minh and Kim didn’t squander their opportunity with their new found freedom. They immediately went to work. Minh worked as a busboy while Kim cleaned houses. In the evenings, they both cleaned offices. They began doing yard work and even landscaping.
Eventually the couple had two sons, Hoang and Man. Someone gave the family a two-car garage, which they made into a home for four people.
Minh and Kim Lam, the young couple who narrowly escaped the hate-filled Vietcong regime, were now parents instilling love and discipline in their sons. When the boys reached school age, their mother insisted they do their homework first thing and then do an additional set of lessons she had prepared for them in Vietnamese. This resulted in them being fluent in both languages at a young age.
As the family continued to grow their landscaping business, they began to work in wealthier neighborhoods with larger yards. Contrary to the modern narrative about ‘the rich,’ these people not only paid well for their yard work, they took Hoang and his brother into their homes while their parents worked and treated them like their own children. They gave them food and housewarming gifts to the family, demonstrating the generosity that Americans are famous for.
The hard work of the Lam family eventually paid off, allowing them to achieve the American Dream and buy their first home in America – a home they still live in today.
The Lams left Vietnam on a dark night in 1975 with nothing. By 1988, they owned a home. Only in America.
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Looking back on his parents’ journey, Hoang says, “I am very grateful that my parents were willing to risk their lives to seek freedom. I am alive and I am free because of their courage. I am also grateful for the U.S. Military that rescued my parents, to the church sponsors and their self-sacrifice.”
Those first principles Hoang’s family gleaned from president Reagan are now an integral part of the tapestry making up Hoang and Margy’s world.
Hoang’s parents raised him to be a patriot. They, more than most native-born Americans, better understand the transformative influence America and Americans can have on a family.
“My parents took the risk of getting into a small boat and found freedom,” said Hoang. “My job is easy. All I have to do is be a great representative of the United States of America and a great representative of my parents, family and friends.”
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Chris Skates is an author and a former chemist, speechwriter, and senior policy advisor.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.