posted by Kevin Mînh Allen

marigold her name
yellowing bracelet slipped off
her tiny wrist bones

April 4, 1975. A C-5A military cargo plane took off from Tan Son Nhut air base near Sài Gòn, carrying hundreds of Vietnamese babies, as well as their escorts and other military and civilian personnel. Operation Babylift had officially commenced. However, due to a mechanical failure, the backdoor to the plane blew out at around 23,000 feet. The pilot turned the plane around in an attempt to return to the airbase, but had to crash land in a rice field. Out of those hundreds of infants and young children on that plane, only 40 survived the crash.

But, the beat went on.

Regular airliners stepped in and, when all was said and done, by April 26, 1975, over 2,000 Vietnamese children were carried out of the madness and chaos of the former Republic of South Vietnam and re-settled in foreign lands.

One of those kids was my sister, nicknamed ‘marigold’, only two months old then. My parents used to tell me that when she came to them she was extremely thin, sickly and couldn’t keep any food down. They were so afraid that she would die before they could get her to the hospital for emergency treatment. But, she made it.

And, one of these days – I can only hope – my sister will want to know more about why people continue to commemorate the lives lost on this date.

But, my sister’s a survivor. And, perhaps that’s all that matters to her.

mother & child parting ways