A shining star guided a fishing boat with Vietnamese refugees to safety, and ultimately led to a new dream.
Phuoc Nguyen and his family was one of several families who survived a dangerous escape attempt from Vietnam on a fishing boat. Phuoc was only 13 at the time when he fled Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City, with his single mother and five siblings. Prior to boarding the fishing boat, children were not told the purpose of the trip and how it would change their lives forever. Along the way, the children learned the purpose of their journey. Hearing conversations of other refugees not surviving their escape and encountering pirates, the reality of the situation set in.
After several days of navigating through Vietnamese government patrolled water, Phuoc’s ship had lost its way. It was at that point the captain decided to “take a chance on following a bright shining star,” said Phuoc.
Here is a woman everyone should know about especially American Veterans. Her name is Bessie Blout and she was a highly accomplished woman. She was born in Virginia and moved to New Jersey to pursue becoming a physical therapist. Later she finished her training in Chicago.
After graduating she taught Physical Therapy at a hospital in New York, but also became an inventor of devices that were instrumental in helping soldiers who were injured (World War Two) to become independent and feed themselves.
The device was used for a soldier in a wheelchair or a bed. Each time the soldier would bite down on the tube, it would transport food one bite at a time. She later invented a smaller portable device (Portable receptacle support) that could be worn around the neck (see image below).
The United States Veteran’s Administration did not support either of her devices. She then sold them to France and gave them the patent rights in 1952. They used them for their war veterans. She wanted to show, “that a Black woman can invent something for the benefit of humankind.”
She created another helpful device that the VA also rejected and never used in their hospitals. It was the invention of a disposable cardboard emesis basin. Her item was also never patented in America so she sold it to Belgium where the basins are still being used throughout their country. American hospitals continue to use the old standard basins of 1913.
In 1969, Bessie began a career in forensic science with law enforcement, and became a chief document examiner.
In 1977, she became the first Black woman to train and work at Scotland Yard, after J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director, turned down her application.
Bessie was named as one of many notable Virginia women in history in 2005
A WWII-Era Protest Letter sent By Japanese-American Internees Resisting the Draft
What is not taught in the history books. The Japanese American experience is an American story / history too. We can learn from all perspectives or experiences or simply stay with our one limited view usually from our limited awareness. Telling the truth of history is not Un-American or unpatriotic. It is very much American, at least it is supposed to be. Learn more about the story here.
There’s a great book on the WWII Japanese American draft resisters by Eric Muller titled “Free to Die for Their Country” that covers the resistance to the draft from a few different camps. There’s also a museum and National Historic Site in northwest Wyoming that has preserved parts of the Heart Mountain camp and commemorates the experiences of those imprisoned there. (More info at heartmountain.org)
The Veterans in this video (and link with further details) have been lobbying for a very long time. They have fought a good fight and many are now dying. Those who are left continue to TRY and do something. I have the utmost respect for them in doing so and the other American Veterans who get behind them.
These Veterans fought and sacrificed too. Maybe promises shouldn’t be made if they can’t be kept. This is the whole mentality that continues of dehumanizing, devaluing, and that lives are expendable.