This is the personal history of Trang Van Do, a Vietnamese refugee who fled South Vietnam as the government was falling in 1975. He wrote it in 1976 as a classroom exercise at Bowie High School in Prince George's County, where the combination of Vietnamese students and children of American military families brings a different perspective to the Vietnam war. Joyce Brown, a history teacher at Bowie, often reads aloud from Do's essay to personalize the human struggle involved in the war. Here are excerpts from the essay.
After  agreement divided my country, under the help of American and other countries of Republic. My family include my grandfather, my parents and my sister and about two millions other peoples emigrate to South Republic. They were looked for freedom, and from that the Civil War in my country began . . .
Four years later 1958) I was born - I grew and lived in the war. In the bomb and the bullet. No any day I didn't hear the burst of gun or bomb. The news of war was most important in my country.
Lived in the war. My parents worked very hard but we still poor because, how could we rich. When sometimes the war went to place my family has been lived and after that my family ruined . . .
[After the Paris peace agreement was signed in 1973, the Vietnamese rejoiced.] Because my peoples thought the war was end . . . but not. The gun still burst and my peoples still bled. We fought and died for a war too unreasonable. The price too expensive.
[With the withdrawal of American troops and the collapse of the government of South Vietnam imminent] my family decided.
Once more time, in the morning of April 30, 1975, a morning I never forget. A morning of history . . . when my father brought us, include seven peoples, two my sisters, me, and four my brothers to the harbour first, and my father went back home once more time for took my mother and my youngest brother.
Before my father went back home, my father said, "If I come back here too late, you're bet go on the ship and go first and I and mother would go latter . . .
Waited. We waited . . . too long time. My parents still don't come back yet . . . and the ship had to leave harbour . . . We wept for fate of my parents and my brother . . .
About 20 minutes latter on radio, we heard my government surrended, heard this news.
Everybody on the ship stupefied and somebody wept - wept for my nation and wept for Vietnam . . .
On the ship we watched country for last times and slowly-slowly my country disappeared follow speed of ship.
This time so sorrowed for us. We left in the sad. In the shame. We lost anything . . . And me. What did I do for my country? . . .
Eight days later - any ship came to a bay of Philipille - that was refugee camp very good for us.
In June 6th, 1975, we accepted a letter from my cousin in the U.S. Good news for us. My parents and my brother left Vietnam in a most lucky.
And finally. We went to America on June 12, 1975, and we began a new life in the second country. . . .
In the years of the civil war in my country (1954-1975) about 500,000 American soldiers came and lived in my country. They brought to my country civilization and of course must be good and bad. . . .
They fought sacrified for my country. They brought to my country the super weapons such as Russia and Red China brought to North Vietnam, and with those super weapons my peoples more died . . .
Before when I thought about America I think to a super country and I dream. Someday . . . I would become American I thought that's a dream only . . . but not. It became to real. A real I didn't know before . . . I went to American in days I lost my country. . . .
I had been here almost a year but I still didn't know yet too much about American but I can say. My imaginary not too wrong and I like American.
And now lived with present. I had to try for my future. My biggest problem is English and how can I have money when I go to university. . . . But I will overcome anything with any price. And maybe, finally, I will go back with my nation. . . .