Before they dug into the egg rolls, shrimp chips
and traditionally prepared vegetables, about 300 people watched
Mayor Coleen Seng sign a proclamation that recognized an official
flag representing Lincoln's Vietnamese American community.
The design, three red stripes
across a gold background, is the flag of the former Republic of
Vietnam, also known as South Vietnam.
The proclamation is part of a national push to promote that flag
over the United Nations-accepted flag of the Socialist Republic of
Vietnam. That communist regime took over the entire country in 1975
after U.S.-supported forces in the South surrendered, ending the
Supporters of the movement say the Socialist Republic's flag, a
gold star on a red background, is a communist symbol that was
imposed on the Vietnamese people.
"(It's) the flag of the tyrants who betrayed and rejected that
glorious culture and history," said Dau Nguyen, president of the
Vietnamese Community of Lincoln.
He said that, in contrast, the freedom, or heritage, flag he
supports symbolizes resilience, freedom and democracy.
In about two years, 38 cities have passed similar resolutions,
Terri Tran of Lincoln said she hopes government institutions will
start flying the heritage flag. "What we wish now is all the public
schools would take down the other flag and recognize this one," she
"Just to see the flag blowing in the wind, it's saying that we're
here for a reason," said Ha Daug, 17, of Lincoln.
The freedom flag is supposed to help get the message across to
the Vietnamese government that Vietnamese Americans don't accept
"One day, we will come back and take over," Nguyen said.
In the meantime, finding and strengthening Vietnamese communities
in America is important, he said.
Nguyen estimated Lincoln's Vietnamese population at 4,000 to
The mayor said she signed the proclamation because the issue
pertained to a significant portion of Lincoln. "This is part of the
city of Lincoln and part of our population," Seng said. "These folks
have brought so much culture to our community."
Vince Nguyen, a 33-year-old machinist who moved to the United
States in 1994, said he recently moved from Seward to Lincoln
because there's more of a Vietnamese presence here. "I was so glad
to see more Vietnamese people," he said.
Nguyen, no relation to Dau Nguyen, attended the New Year's event
with his wife and son. The lunar New Year doesn't happen for 13 more
days. Until then, many Vietnamese families will celebrate by burning
incense and giving money to their children.
Nguyen said it's good to celebrate the culture, because some
people wouldn't be exposed to it otherwise.
"A lot of people born here don't have a chance to see our
culture," Vince Nguyen said.
Reach Crystal K. Wiebe at 473-7395 or