In my childhood, my mother often praised Ngô Đình Diệm as the only man who could withstand the Northern Vietnamese forces from taking over the South. He was special, different, unique...duy nhất. In Sucheng Chan's The Vietnamese American 1,5 Generation: Stories of War, Revolution, Flight, and New Beginnings, Chan begins the article by describing the Southern Vietnamese government under Ngô Đình Diệm. Most critically, the United States began to question supporting the Ngô Đình Diệm Regime and covertly supported his assassination. This started the chain of events that developed great instability in South Viet Nam and created multiple short-lived governments after each other.
This brings up a critical point. What is the role of American Exceptionalism during this period? Does the United States have some inherent need to be involved in the affairs of Viet Nam? Would South Viet Nam still exist if Ngô Đình Diệm was alive?
These are the many questions that continue to haunt my mother's dreams and my own as well. These stories constantly remind me that I am a Sài Gòn national and not, such is the unique experience of a diaspora. I have never experienced the events that my mother went through, but her memory pervades my life and creates/re-creates the fabrics of my existence. I find myself loving Sài Gòn and Ngô Đình Diệm. I identify with the concepts of Sài Gòn and Ngô Đình Diệm.
Discussion Question: Do you think that Sài Gòn would still exist if Ngô Đình Diệm was not assassinated?