DaRell Pittman – LTNC Series

The American Family

Like bamboo shoots

after the storm,

they are resilient, undefeated

and persistent, growing ever stronger.

Their roots run deep

to support aspirations soaring high.

          This is the song of Leuane and Chanty,

          the Mukdahanhs … refugees of Laos.

Two young lovers facing the unknown,

straddling cultures.

They are fearless, without hesitancy.

They stand hand in hand,

hands holding children,

fleeing the land of ten thousand elephants,

seeking refuge in a land of ten thousand lakes.

From rain forests to blizzards

they hold on to their dream

like they hold on to their children

and their … love.

Standing hand in hand

in this new land,

they continue to … dream … the American Dream.

A dream that promises, freedom and prosperity

through hard work and sacrifice.

They had come to America

embracing hope and offering respect

to neighbor and stranger alike.

Leuane and Chanty arrived dreaming …

the American Dream,

where hope springs eternal.

But it had become “Winter in America.”

And too many of our people had become cold

and could not recall the birth of their own dreams.

So, seeing themselves superior,

these uber-americans,

these super-americans

built an economic and social fortress

of solitude

to isolate the immigrants.

But the Mukdahanhs had been forged in the land

of Suriyothai queens and kings,

farmers and builders, philosophers and scholars.

They came from generations of a people

who tamed the jungles to build temples

and foster beliefs of love, peace and enlightenment.

The Mukdahanhs were not afraid

of adversity nor obstacles.

So, they held on to one another

and continued to seek their dream

of a better life for their progeny,

and a place to live out their love.

So they worked.

They worked hard.

Educated their seed.

Lived their lives honest and true,

withstood tempests and maelstroms,

bigotry and misfortune.

All the while remaining a family … an American family.

Then without fanfare nor opulence

they did more than simply find

the American Dream …

they became the American Dream:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses

  yearning to breathe free”

because they are the chosen ones.

They built this country

and are still building our country.

Let us never forget

that the global immigrant

is the well spring of our nation’s wealth.

The American Dream

is a dream of immigrants

and it always has been.

Let us celebrate

the two young Lao lovers

who crossed jungles and rivers,

faced soldiers and camps,

fought poverty and racism,

all for a chance to … love,

raise their children

and grow old … together.

This is the song of

Leuane and Chanty Mukdahanh …

an American family.

Artist and About the Piece:

DaRell Pittman: “The poem is a testament to the love, persistence and faith of my in-laws. They overcame tremendous obstacles to simply stay alive in Laos and Thailand. Then once here in the United States, they were forced to continue to have to stand against injustice. My father-in-law, Leuane Mukdahanh is one of my heroes and I wanted to pay tribute to “The Mukdahanh story.”

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