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The Olympian, Olympia Washington
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
South Sound Email this storyEmail this story  Printable versionPrintable version  Printable versionSubscribe Today
Tumwater Council

Yellow Vietnam flag gets approval
First such resolution in state


What's next

Vietnamese-American groups will celebrate the resolution's passage at 2 p.m. Saturday outside Tumwater City Hall, 555 Israel Road S.W. The Tumwater High School band is scheduled to perform, and there will be a reading of the resolution in English and in Vietnamese.

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City of Tumwater:

On the Web

South Puget Sound Community College:


 Flag: Former Republic of Vietnam

 Flag: Vietnam

Embassy of Vietnam in Washington D.C.:

CIA - The World Factbook 2002:


TUMWATER -- Local Vietnamese Americans waved two flags as they sat inside City Hall on Tuesday night.

One was yellow with three red stripes, formerly the flag of South Vietnam. The other was red, white and blue, also known as the star-spangled banner. The gesture showed their dual heritage.

The Tumwater City Council unanimously voted to pass a resolution Tuesday supporting the yellow flag as the symbol of the South Vietnamese community, marking the first such measure approved by a city in Washington.

The yellow South Vietnamese flag no longer represents a country. A red flag with a yellow star replaced it when North Vietnamese forces entered Saigon on April 30, 1975, forcing South Vietnam to surrender and ending the civil war.

"This means a lot to the Vietnamese community," said Tuan Vu, an Olympia resident who came to the United States as a Vietnamese refugee in 1975. "When we left Vietnam, we left everything behind except our hearts full of hope and love of freedom. This yellow flag was our passport to freedom in America."

In the spring, a display of the red flag at South Puget Sound Community College sparked anger among local Vietnamese refugees who have said they find the banner offensive.

The request for the Tumwater resolution came from a coalition of Vietnamese-American groups whose members say the move is unrelated to the controversy at the college. Nearly 20 such resolutions have passed across the country.

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 50 Vietnamese Americans attended the meeting Tuesday, and several brought cameras and video recorders to capture the resolution's passage on film. Some carried signs or wore T-shirts that read "Let freedom ring" and showed a merging of the American and former South Vietnamese flag.

"This really is an awesome display," Councilman Ed Stanley said. "This is one of the biggest groups we've ever had."

Two people who came to the meeting said they opposed the resolution.

H. "Guz" Schwartz, a Vietnam War veteran who lives in Tumwater, said the resolution could set a dangerous precedent that would open the door for people who support the confederate flag, for example, to seek similar city support.

"I have a problem with trying to supplant another flag of a current nation with another flag," he said. "If that is the ulterior intent, then I'm concerned about it."

Huong Le, president of the Vietnamese Student Association at South Puget Sound Community College, said he was excited about Tumwater's resolution.

"I feel like the city of Tumwater still actually recognizes us and listens to our voice," he said.

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