My father fled Vietnam on April 30th, 1975. He lost the war. He lost everything. His home? Part of the past. His life? Gone. His struggles? Just about to begin. But he found solace. He found something to look forward to. He found The Dallas Cowboys. May 10, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ray Holley (23) watches a drill during the rookie minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in Irving, TX. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
My father fled Vietnam on April 30th, 1975. He lost the war. He lost everything.
His home? Part of the past. His life? Gone. His struggles? Just about to begin.
But he found solace. He found something to look forward to. He found The Dallas Cowboys. America’s Team, was his team — not so different from many Vietnamese who crossed the ocean frantically in a boat.
Trust me on this: You do not have to be from Dallas to be a Cowboys fan. This whole idea that you must be born from a city to love this, or like this, or vote for this and that, is pure garbage.
My father recalls his war memories vividly after visiting the Vietnam Memorial for the first time in Washington D.C. He tells us how he fled his country with fear in his eyes and pain in the heart. Fighting for your country, only to lose, is painful enough. But not knowing what to call home underneath your feet is another thing.
After some hesitation on my dad’s part, the Americans got through to him by insisting he was in danger if he remained in the country. He fled by helicopter, and then by boat into the Philippines, where he surrendered his uniform and firearms.
My father, a soldier, salutes soldiers he fought alongside.
This is when he saw his flag go down.
He tells us how the natives cried. He tells us how he cried, and that he never forgot that moment.
While he explains this, I try to picture my dad crying. To this day, I’ve only seen him cry once. He does not cry when he tells this story, but I can see it in his body language. I see it in his eyes.
I think The Dallas Cowboys saved my father. The team gave him a home away from home. America’s Team is responsible for his transition. He wanted to know America. He wanted to adapt. He wanted to change. He wanted to start over. My dad lost the war, but he was determined not to lose this next battle: His life.
The Cowboys were splattered everywhere. Success gets you television time. My father recalls his love for the “Star.” Tom Landry was a model figure. The uniforms were clean and crisp. But more than anything, The Cowboys were accumulating something he desired, something he needed.
They were accumulating wins.
I once told my dad that I liked The Philadelphia Eagles when I was a kid. Hey, my favorite color was green (still is). I remember my dad almost having a heart attack. It was either that or he wanted to fart on my face and offer me up for adoption. Luckily, I corrected myself before this happened.
I have never been to Dallas. So, I guess I suffer from NBD. Well, this is my head and I’ll choose what to fill it with. And I say this: You don’t have to be chained to something you don’t believe in. My father didn’t fall for this. He believed in something, and he was willing to give his life for it.
My father believes in America. His faith rests with The Dallas Cowboys — forever. And no, he was not born in Dallas (nor resides there). You know what? It’s okay to be from here and there to love this and that. Take it from my father.
You don’t have to originate from Switzerland to like Roger Federer. Right? You don’t have to be Chinese to like chinese food. Right? And you can give birth to children in Illinois and raise them as Cowboy fans, if you wish. Right?
We fans, we suffer from NBD. Go ahead, diagnose us. Our disease is loving the best dang sports team in America. Heck, the world.
And if you are ever around the Iowa/Illinois border, feel free to stop in for a visit with my father. Do mock him about being a Cowboys fan, and explain to him he has NBD.
But don’t say I didn’t warn you. This soldier has fight left in the tank.