Orange County Branch Newsletter
Government Relations Committee
By: Ken G. Bui, PE, M.ASCE
As I reflect on our Independence Day – July 4th, I am very grateful for America … as one talk radio host would say: “the greatest country on God’s Green Earth!”
My late father, Vinnie Bui (of course that is his nick name!), brought our family out of the war-torn country of Vietnam at the end of April 1975. We made it to America as refugees. I remembered my father was telling my brothers and me to study English, because we were going to America, as he puts it … “heaven on earth!!!” At the time, I didn’t think English was that important, but rather we needed to be good swimmers. We can swim to America if necessary!!!
We left a port city near Saigon on the morning of April 29th while the Viet Cong was bombing the port. We were far out from shore, so it was not too harrowing. Our experience in a 100-foot fishing boat is nothing compared to the ordeals that the true “boat people” experienced on the open sea for many days. We were picked up by US merchant ships, which were in international water waiting for the thousands and thousands of people expected to flee Vietnam … and fleeing communism. We spend a little over a week in open sea and made it to Guam. And from there, it was much easier.
Looking back more than 40 years in America, I can truly appreciate all the opportunities that America has afforded our family. So much more than I can ever imagine. I have travelled to other places in the world, and I can truly agree with the radio host that this is “the greatest country on God’s Green Earth!” Our country’s infrastructure might be “crumbling,” but it still is the best … in my humble opinion. Our Government Relations Committee, following the lead of Society, is reaching out to local and state elected officials to advocate for infrastructure spending. We recognize the need for the nation, as a whole, to invest in our infrastructure … to maintain, as well as expand, and stay “the greatest country on God’s Green Earth!” Please stay informed and work with Society to be advocates for infrastructure.
Seeing what I have seen, I totally agree with my dad … this is “heaven on earth!!!” On this July 4th, thank you, America, for the freedom that you have provided to me, my family, and millions refugees/immigrants from all over the world, for whom I am one. I want to pay it back!!!
Talking about the Stars & Stripes, I want to give kudos to our own star in the ASCE OC Branch, Ms. Elizabeth Ruedas. Liz has dedicated a lot of time and effort to our Branch in multiple committees and groups. She is also an Advocacy Captain for our State, as well. Liz was recently recognized and honored by Society as one of the 2016 New Faces of Civil Engineering – Professional Edition. Way to go, Liz! Liz is definitely a rising star within Society; so keep an eye on her.
Happy 4th of July everyone … and remember to thank our men and women in uniform for protecting the freedom that everyone so desire.