The Rebirth of Hope: My Journey from Vietnam War Child to American Citizen

The Rebirth of Hope: My Journey from Vietnam War Child to American Citizen

The Rebirth of Hope: My Journey from Vietnam War Child to American Citizen

The Rebirth of Hope: My Journey from Vietnam War Child to American Citizen


Born in a demilitarized zone during the Vietnam War to a Vietnamese mother and American soldier, Sau Le arrived in the United States as a young woman with only twenty dollars in her pocket. Though bullied and abused since childhood, she nevertheless came to her new homeland armed with a commitment to build a decent life for herself, her infant son, and her traumatized mother. This is the story of how she overcame every conceivable hurdle--including significant culture shock, a language barrier, serious illness, heartbreak, and betrayal--to become a landlord, successful business owner, joyous wife and mom and a woman blessed with generous, loyal friends. She describes an arduous journey, both literal and figurative, from a place of terror and utter despair to a life she created that's overflowing with prosperity, patriotism, and love. And ultimately, it's the story of hope, something Sau thought she'd lost long ago in the minefields of Vietnam. In telling her story, Sau Le aims to uplift those who worry that their dreams cannot be realized. Her goal is also to remind everyone born on American soil that this is the greatest country on earth, and that anything in this land is possible for those willing to put dedication, faith, and passion to work.


When I was six years old, the night before school started, my sister was killed by a land mine.

I was watching a movie when it happened. That always seems to be the case when something terrible arrives on your doorstep, that you are watching a movie, or washing the dishes, or buying something at the market. and then comes the knock at the door—or in my case, the announcement over the theater’s pa system—that tells you the ordinary is gone, and you have horror in its place.

I had been playing with a friend at an outdoor theater in Quảng Tri, the small town where I grew up in Vietnam. a voice blared over the speakers, but it was muddled by the noise and the crowd’s reaction to the news. Confused, I followed everyone as they left the theater and ran toward the scene, and as I was running with them, I started to pick out pieces of what had happened. As I did, a sense of dread built in me, fueled by the panic that lit the faces in the crowd. Three people had stepped on a land mine. One person was dead, they were sure, and they couldn’t find two others. It was getting dark, and they needed everyone to help look for them. the crowd hummed with pieces of facts, rumor, and confusion.

At this point I had not seen my sister Tho for a while. Everyone was talking about death, and I wasn’t really sure what they were talking about. I don’t remember who took me home, but I got home somehow and went to bed, still believing my sister would come home to me.

The next day they found Tho very far away from the explosion, her body miraculously intact. She had died from the impact—the bones of her small body shattered by hitting the ground so hard. When my mother saw her, carried limp on the shoulder of a family friend, she collapsed. Her darling Tho, taken away so young, and by a fragment of a war that was supposed to be over. But during the traditional three-day funeral, even though the mourners had plenty of opportunity to comment bitterly on the unfairness of it all, none of the hundreds of people that came to give their respects to the wood box in the center of our living room mentioned . . .

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