I thank Almighty God for the privilege of living in the United States of America.  It has been home to me since February 29, 1980 and I value my citizenship in this great nation.  Like many immigrants, my family and I left our homeland in search of freedom. 

After Vietnam fell to communism, life regressed as freedom was snatched away from the people.  Citizens of Vietnam were considered inferior subjects of the Viet Cong or communist government.  They advocated collective ownership of all property with the benefits being distributed based on the needs of each individual or family.  However, the practical application of communism did not benefit the Vietnamese people in any way.  On the contrary, resources were allotted to the communist government and their families first with any leftovers being distributed to the people.  The Vietnamese were oppressed and lived in poverty while the communist families enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle with education and travels abroad.  I remember food being rationed and distributed to families by the government.  Men who posed a threat to the communists were imprisoned in camps, forced to work the land and build homes for the government while being tortured, starved and kept in isolation as POWs.  My dad and uncles were among those held in captivity for not supporting communism.  Community service work was mandated and teachings on communism were enforced on students in schools.  Young people could no longer pursue higher education but was forced to find work in order to take care of their families.  Priests and pastors were jailed while churches and parochial schools were forced to close because the communists feared that people were worshipping God and not Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader of Vietnam.  Songs about Ho Chi Minh and Cong San or communism were aired over loud speakers throughout the city each day reminding people to give allegiance to Ho Chi Minh.  He was idolized during his lifetime and even after his death.  Many sacrificed their lives in faithfulness to this man and he was revered as a god to his followers. 

Consequently, the Vietnamese people began to escape communism in pursuit of a better life for themselves and a promising future for their children.  In 1975, some fishermen had the clever idea of using their fishing boats to flee from communism and to make a business of it.   Gold was given in exchanged for a seat on their boats.  Hence, the escapees were named “boat people”.  My aunt purchased seats on one of these boats for our family and we joined ranks with many other boat people fleeing Vietnam.  We left our home, family, friends, and country out of desperation in hopes of finding freedom.  Today, 33 years later, I am more grateful than ever for my freedom for it is in this free land of America that I found my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am thankful for the freedom to worship him as the one and only true God.  I value this freedom as a precious gift because many men, women, and families have and continue to sacrifice their lives to defend America.  Without their service to this country, the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would cease to exist. 

This Independence Day, I pray that the United States as a nation would reflect on the value of our freedom.  May we exercise freedom to follow God by obeying his laws and not chase after the many false gods of this world.  Let us not ignore God and experience the chaos, corruption, wickedness, and spiritual death of a nation like Vietnam.  Heavenly Father, help us to value the freedom we have in the United States as a gift from you and teach us how to use this freedom to glorify you!