Bui-Doi: They Are All Our Children, Too

MissSaigonPosterI’m old enough to remember Vietnam. The horrific images of napalm warfare splashed across our TV screens. The propaganda. The rationalization. The fear. I remember in particular the images of the evacuation of Saigon, where helicopters airlifted out the last of the soldiers while television journalists on the rooftop bar of the Rex Hotel filmed the inglorious retreat.

Last February, my partner Pam and I stood on that same rooftop in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City and looked across toward the old American Embassy. I could almost hear the thundering thump-thump-thump of the helicopters.

Then yesterday we went to the Flat Rock Playhouse to see the musical, Miss Saigon. I had never seen the play, and only vaguely knew a few details:  that it was based on Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, and that it was set in Saigon during the Vietnam war.

I came away stunned.

Miss Saigon is not just the story of something that happened forty years ago, something so vile and violent that millions of us were driven to the streets in protest. In some ways it’s also the story of what’s happening right here, right now, this moment–something so vile and violent that we ought to be taking to the streets. Something that should never, never happen in a nation that began with a conscience call to freedom.

two-little-kids-looking-out-to-seaI’m talking about the children. The ones who come following a dream of peace and safety only to find themselves arrested and detained and crowded into places that look remarkably like concentration camps.

Those dirty, frightened, innocent children. The ones who strike such fear in our hearts.

 

Here’s the song from Miss Saigon that left me breathless and in tears.
Click the link to listen. And please, listen carefully. Read the lyrics below.
And ask yourself. . .well, just ask yourself.

Bui-Doi (They Are All Our Children, Too)

 

Bui-Doi
from Miss Saigon

They’re called Bui-Doi
The Dust of Life
Conceived in hell
And born in strife
They are the living reminders
Of all the good we failed to do
We can’t forget
Must not forget
That they are all
Our children too

Like all survivors, I once thought
When I’m home I won’t give a damn
But now I know I’m caught
I’ll never leave Vietnam

War isn’t over when it ends
Some pictures never leave your mind
They are the faces of the children
The ones we left behind

They’re called Bui-Doi
The Dust of Life
Conceived in hell
And born in strife
They are the living reminders
Of all the good we failed to do
We can’t forget
Must not forget
That they are all
Our children too

These kids hit walls on every side
They don’t belong in any place
Their secret they can’t hide
Its printed on their face
I never thought I’d plead
For half-breeds from a land that’s torn
But then I saw a camp for children
Whose crime was being born

They’re called Bui-Doi
The Dust of Life
Conceived in hell
And born in strife
We owe them fathers, and a family –
A loving home they never knew
Because we know
Deep in our hearts
That they are all
Our children too

These are souls in need
They need us to give
Someone has to pay
For their chance to life
Help me try

They’re called Bui-Doi
The Dust of Life
Conceived in hell
And born in strife
They are the living reminders
Of all the good we failed to do
That’s why we know
Deep in our hearts
That they are all
Our children too

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2 Responses to Bui-Doi: They Are All Our Children, Too

  1. Maren says:

    Thank you so much for this Penny. It means a lot to me that you wrote it.

  2. janespanes says:

    Thank you Penny, they are all our children.

    Jane

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