This is first of three stories alluded to in my recent blog here The Power of Diversity
When the topic of Diversity comes up, most people do not immediately think of the US Army or its Service Academy, West Point, but I do. I cannot say my childhood was totally lacking in diversity, but I really begun to appreciate the perspectives brought by different cultures and ethnicities while a cadet. What united my fellow cadets was love of freedom and country. What made us collectively stronger was the melding of the ideas and perspectives from our different backgrounds and cultures.
One of my good friends at the academy and to this day is Peter Vu. Peter was a fellow member of the C-1 Cobras, my company at West Point. (A company is like a fraternity except with none of the parties but all of the service projects!). Peter and our fellow classmate Jean Nguyen were the first two Vietnamese Americans ever to graduate from West Point. Peter as a child escaped through Laos from the war in Vietnam and immigrated to the US. I learned and am still learning many lessons from Peter. One of the most important is the art of quiet endurance. When we were at Airborne School together, Peter could take the intense yelling of the instructors and stand the hours in the “front lean and rest” (aka Plank position) while the rest of us secretly fumed. He could go and endure, quietly driving through the obstacle.
I also remember meeting his family on a visit to New York and the closeness they shared. It was also my first introduction to Pho and Hung’s love for all food. Unfortunately I tried to replicate it without his metabolism. I also learned the art of self-deprecating humor from Peter (something I do not practice enough). He had to endure many hardships and overcome many obstacles as an immigrant to the US and these experiences he passed on. Most importantly, he brought the perspective that all power must be tempered by compassion, tolerance and fairness. Below is a posting that I have kept about Peter’s graduation and a picture from Airborne School.
Peter has spread the legacy of Vietnamese leading and serving in our country. He has been a sponsor of numerous cadets all in the service to our country. Below is a recent picture of Peter and a new batch of the Long Grey Line. Thank you Peter for the lessons learned in leadership and bringing the best and brightest to serve our country! We are better together when we blend our unique perspectives and talents to a higher purpose!