With Thanksgiving just a few days away, many of us are reflecting on why we’re thankful this holiday. One Lancaster County woman says she has been waiting 40 years to express what she’s most thankful for — the military service members who fought for democracy in Vietnam.
Tien To wasn’t born in the United States, but she’s probably the most patriotic American you’d ever meet. Inside her home, you’ll find bald eagles and touches of the stars and stripes.
“To live here and say, ‘This is my country, and this is my country,’ I’m proud to say that,” she said.
To says she owes her life and liberty to the American troops who fought alongside South Vietnamese soldiers against Communist forces during the Vietnam War. She was just a high school student when the war broke out. Her father worked as a labor union official. The North Vietnamese Army captured him and for four years, held him prisoner.
“They took the house and everything,” she said.
When asked the question, “How do you think your life would be if you were still in Vietnam?” To replied, “I don’t know, I maybe die.”
Last year, she felt compelled to write a letter of thanks to those veterans after reading about how many were not welcomed home after their service. It’s a letter she can’t read without getting emotional.
“We never can pay you back,” she read. “I’ve been carrying the guilt too.”
On Thanksgiving, a holiday where we give thanks, To says it’s never too late to show gratitude for sacrifices made some 40 years ago and for her second chance in her adopted country.
“It’s long overdue, I want to say thank you to our American soldiers our Vietnamese soldiers from the South, for our freedom,” she said.
Just as she was sponsored to come to America in 1975, To has gone on to sponsor 27 people, including relatives, friends and even strangers from Vietnam to settle in the U.S.