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,
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,
built an economic and social fortress
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.”