(WGHP) — Growing up in America, it may be easy to take things like peace and the right to live freely for granted.
Not for Y Siu Hlong.
“We the Montagnard people in Vietnam…don’t have peace at all. We live by three words: peace, freedom and happiness. We don’t have that,” Y Siu said.
He is a Montagnard – the name given to the people who lived in Vietnam’s central highlands for centuries. When France colonized Vietnam in the 19th century, that was the name they gave to the mountain people.
But asking for those most essential things – peace, freedom and happiness – shouldn’t be too much, says Y Siu’s American-born daughter Cassandra.
“That’s what he yearns for…his basic human right,” Cassandra Hlong said.
In 1986, WGHP-TV did an extended report on the Montagnards and their rescue and resettlement in the Piedmont Triad.
Producer and photographer David Weatherly went with reporter Scott Libin to tell the Montagnard story, meeting them at a refugee camp in the Philippines and staying with them after they arrived at the Piedmont Triad Airport in August of 1986.
Libin is now a journalism professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, but he well remembers what it was like for the Montagnards to quickly learn what life would be like in a strange land.
“They were learning things we took for granted – driving, how do you get a driver’s license, what’s it going to be like over there – and they could just imagine…what North Carolina would be like,” Libin said.
See more of the Montagnards’ story in this edition of the Buckley Report.