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March 12, 2003

Garden Grove flag vote cheered
Little Saigon residents hail council's adoption of South Vietnamese banner.

By Katherine Nguyen

GARDEN GROVE (The Orange County Register) - This city Tuesday became the second in Orange County to make the South Vietnamese flag the official flag of the Vietnamese-American community.

The City Council voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, drawing cheers and shouts of "Thank you!" from about 100 spectators.

"The (South Vietnamese) flag is how we want to be represented as the Vietnamese- American community," said Xuan T. Vu of the Vietnamese American Public Affairs Committee, who had urged Councilman Mark Rosen to introduce the resolution.

The South Vietnamese flag, yellow with three horizontal red stripes, has been flown in Orange County's Little Saigon since the Vietnamese refugees fled communist rule.

Community activists say the current national flag of Vietnam, red with a yellow star in the center, has long been abhorred as a symbol of communist rule.

Westminster adopted the South Vietnamese flag in February. Inspired by the recent failure of a similar proposal in Virginia, Little Saigon leaders say they hope to gain momentum for statewide recognition of the South Vietnamese flag. Garden Grove and Westminster are home to Orange County's largest Vietnamese population.

After receiving formal complaints from the Vietnamese government, the U.S. State Department frowned upon the attempt in Virginia to display only the South Vietnamese flag at official functions. The State Department cited concerns about the bill's constitutionality and interference in diplomatic affairs.

Rosen said the Garden Grove resolution differs from Westminster's, which contained strong words condemning the communist government.

Four speakers asked the council to make the American flag the official flag of the Vietnamese American community.

"This is America, not Vietnam," Carolyn Baxter said. "They came here for a home. They should accept an American flag."

But, said Mindy Nguyen, "There's a simple reason why we support having the South Vietnamese flag: It symbolizes freedom.
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