Khang Nguyen grew up familiar with war. In South Vietnam, he and his family heard the frequent boom of shells and gunfire. Once, a mortar shell fell on a house across the street from his home, killing their friends inside.
In 1975, when communists took over the country, he and his family fled to an airport in vans. His father and two of his siblings made it onto a flight to the United States, but the rest of the family got left behind amid the chaos.
Nguyen, his mother and other siblings lived in poverty, peddling rice on the streets. Meanwhile, his father, a former employee of the U.S. Information Services in Vietnam, used his contacts to find the family.
In 1981, the parents and nine children were reunited in Washington.
Family members said Nguyen relished his newly ordered, stable life. He earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland. For 13 years, he worked for the Defense Information Systems Agency at the Pentagon, and during the past six months was a systems administrator for a Navy contractor.
Nguyen, 41, loved working at the Pentagon and would buy hats and T-shirts with government logos. He devoured books on the military, particularly about the Vietnam War.
"This is our second native country. We have gotten so many opportunities," said his wife, Tu Nguyen, 38.
When the Pentagon arranged for Khang Nguyen's car to be towed from the parking lot to a relative's driveway, family members said that his son, An, jumped up and down, pressing his face against the car windows, looking for his father.
"He was lucky; he was born here," Tu Nguyen said quietly. "He never suffered any pain from the war. But now he is 4 years old, and he has lost his father."
[from the Washington Post memorial page]
“This guitar was my husband’s dearest friend. Playing it was his greatest passion. Growing up in one of the poorest countries, [Vietnam], he had to sacrifice all his meal allowances to buy his first guitar and played beautifully since he was a teenager. ... The sound of Khang’s tunes flowed through our house and through my heart. When I was feeling down, his music lifted my spirit. He always hoped that he would teach our little son, An, to play the guitar. Now, just like his Dad, this guitar has become An’s buddy. Sadly, Khang cannot be here for An’s music lessons, but his songs and his music will live forever in our hearts.”
Tu Nguyen, wife
Khang was a wonderful man, from what I have read of him. Admired and respected by his colleagues, loved by his wife and son. There is no more a man can ask for - except the long life to to enjoy these things. Khang's life was cruelly cut short at 41 (the same age as me).
And it would appear I am not alone in admiring this man:
"I worked with Khang when he was an engineer at the Defense Information Systems Agency. He was a caring, responsible individual with a great love for this country. He is missed."
*** Posted by Colonel Michael McCullough on 2005-08-23 ***
I noticed Tu talked about Khang's love of playing his guitar. so I attach by way of tribute to Khang, Tu, An and all the victims and families of 9/11 a piece of music:
to all those who lay awake (and those who still do!) at 3am thinking of their loved ones.
Follow this Link to the Pentagon Memorial site. All the more poignant as I work in the UK equivalent of the Pentagon!
When I'm gone from your side,
And all your tears have been dried ...
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow;
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of a quiet dove in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
And when you stroll in the evening hours,
And smell the aroma of beautiful flowers;
There'll be no need to sob and cry ...
I am not there, I did not die!
~ Author Unknown ~
All the victims of 9/11 will live on in the hearts of those they left behind.
And us bloggers will not forget, either...