They resettled in the South and enjoyed a peaceful life. Unfortunately, it did not last long. The war erupted a few years after when the North formed the New Front and started the bloodshed, this time between brothers, sisters of the same motherland. Their goal was to put the entire country under the communist regime.
As a student living in the capital, Joseph did not know much about the war until July 1972, when he graduated, the war reached its peak. Assigned to be the leader of a field surgical team providing services to the military units close to the Demilitarized Zone, Joseph had the opportunity to witness with his own eyes the horrendous damages the war had done to the soldiers:
"Every day, flight after flight poured down the newly recruited soldiers to this airport. They were from 17 or 18 years old, voluntarily registered into these elite units..........The airplanes brought them to this airport. Cars after cars were waiting at the airport, ready to take them straight to the front line. It was so heartbreaking to see them leaving the airport on those GMCs, heading to the burning front line."
"Only a hundred feet away from the place they took off, in a big tin-roofed warehouse, many of their fellow combatants were laid down in the coffins, wrapped in the national flag, rows after rows, until there was no more room for them. No matter how old they were, and what unit they belonged, they all laid down here and waited day after day. They waited for their flights home." (Farewell Vietnam).
March 1975, pushing its army through the DMZ, the North invaded and finally took over The South on April 30, 1975. The gunshots stopped, the bloodshed ceased, but real peace never happened. Joseph and the people in the South faced a hostile and revengeful policy. Its officers and employees were sent to the re-education camps for forced labors. Their properties were confiscated, their families were sent to the jungles for what called the new economic zones.
"My screaming in the middle of the night awakened everybody. Some minutes after, the entire medical staff rushed to our rescue. But as soon as they reached the doorway, they were totally immobilized like the stone statues, stunned at seeing the spectacle that was so horrible to the point that no one dared to move." retold in Farewell Vietnam about a depressed and ill POW, who had tried a suicide attempt by hanging himself.
Suffering atrocities and vicious policies implemented by the cruel Northern victors, people started to flee out of the country by boat. This created "The Second Vietnamese Exodus", which brought almost a million Vietnamese to all over the world, besides hundreds of thousands died of starving, drown, raped or killed in the ocean.
"The heat and the odor coming from human bodies, the sweat, soiled clothes that had not been washed for weeks, the odor of urine, all combined to create a very disgusting odor that made me feel nausea. .....the really small size of the cell, fifteen feet long by ten feet wide contained more than thirty people." (Prison under the police system).
Farewell Vietnam shows readers the true communist heaven, where there's not enough food to eat, no medicine to take and no proper clothing to wear. The war brought both sides pain, bloodshed with millions of deaths, and many more cripples. When it stopped, the communist's arrogance and ignorance transformed the whole country into a big prison, where no one had a decent human life.
Joseph had to say Farewell to his Motherland and left Vietnam not with his parents and siblings like in1954, but this time with his own family to a country, chosen to be their new homeland with unforgettable memo