Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 3

I had been so hungry the evening before that I even texted some friends during the night to see if they had food. NOPE!!! They were starving too!!! When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t wait for breakfast so me and my roommate, Tong, went extra early to appease our appetite. Arriving, we meet a person who said that breakfast was seven dollars. SEVEN DOLLARS?!? At first I thought he was just kidding but a few seconds later when he still looked serious, I knew that was for real. That just killed my happy-go-lucky mood. One regular school days I wake up 2 hours before school to make me a fulfilling breakfast. Most of the time, they’re even better than my dinners because I’d make steak and grilled chicken… I go all out during breakfast, believe it or not… lol… Finding that my roommates also didn’t get to eat breakfast because it was seven dollars and being able to laugh it off with them made me less crabby… hahaa!!! o.O

Our first stop was the capital. The Civil Rights Memorial Center let me know that remembering is the only gift we need to give for those who died for freedom so we wouldn’t have too. As a testament to the strength of the unknown Civil Rights activists who’ve lost their lives, the Memorial Center has kept on going strong just like them, having survived bombings and attacks and even growing stronger after each one. I can never repay those nonviolent American freedom fighters so I thanked them by enshrining my name digitally to stand with them. Maybe their spirits can see me from somewhere and be able to rest a little better.

I find it fascinating the memorial outside was designed by the woman who’d made the Vietnam Wall. I never ran my hands across anyone’s name before but feeling the sharp edges of each letter with my small fingers, I can feel how powerful and touching the act can be. I can understand how mothers who’ve lost their sons to the war can have comfort in tenderly embracing their lost child’s name. When small children are young and sick, mothers would comfort them by soothing their chest or backs with their touch, trying to release that illness by somehow trying to steal that sickness unto them self. I don’t know if it works but I did feel better when my mother held me as I was sick. Outside the memorial as I run my ringers through the water and trace the letters of some names of activists who’ve died, that feeling of stone marble under my skin feel as if I have a mother’s touch, empowering me as I remember them. I see how a tender touch can be so powerful.

Our next stop was a walking tour through downtown Montgomery. On the way there, we learned that most cities and towns began by having a park in downtown. Many of us thought it was to bring people closer together to unify them but the original reason for it was very different and evil. The towns centers were originally a huge marketplace for slave owners to auction off slaves. Today, a beautiful water fountain adorns the center of Montgomery. We had a big discussion and one of the reasons why it there was a fountain was because when people come to downtown, which is usually the heart of a city, no one wants to be reminded of an ugly past. The counter-argument was if it’s not there, then you’re denying it ever happened. I feel that both answers are correct. There’s no way to atone for the city’s crime against humanity but just placing a beautiful water fountain in the middle of town over the city’s slave market is wrong. There should be a plaque or memorial next to or on the fountain to tell the whole history, even the ugly ones so there’s an understanding.

Our evening question for Womens 222 was, what kinds of privileges do you have?

I am so glad that the ones before me had the strength to give me this privilege of being able to live in the United States without discrimination. Because of their unselfishness, I'm able to learn and become anything I'd like be and enlist in the U.S. Army. As a male veteran, I have some some preferences when it comes to jobs and extra money for school. Because the military is a huge part of our culture, Hmong parents have more respect for me than regular young men who haven't served and that translates in a better and more trusting relationship when I'm mentoring their children for Blugold Beginnings, hanging out with their children, or dating their daughters.

1 comment:

  1. I think that your military experience in a 'warrior-honoring' culture helps you both within your Hmong culture and within the overall US culture. It somehow makes you more 'American' to have served. Hopefully it benefits you your whole life both personally and professionally.