Yesterday’s travels took me to the Arlington Optimist Club and a presentation by Sonia Johnston – Arlington regional president of John Marshall Bank – and her niece Monique Tho, presenting an overview of the Tho family’s quest in the 1970s to get from South Vietnam to the U.S.
(“Sonia Johnston” is how we all know the local banker, but “To Nga” was her birth name, or the closest English equivalent, as she was growing up in the South Vietnam city of Can Tho.)
As one who worked for the U.S. embassy in Saigon, it was something of a life-or-death decision that caused the 23-year-old Johnston to take up an offer from the U.S. government and leave the country. She departed April 30, 1975, as North Vietnamese tanks were rumbling into the South Vietnam capital, whisked away from the rooftop of the American embassy by helicopter.
The story is recounted in an online documentary that can be found HERE and is well put together. Won’t take up much time and is well worth a look.
Through hard work, the assistance of others (including a coalition of Baptist churches in Northern Virginia) and some well-placed luck, Johnston was able to win sponsorship for her family members to come to the U.S. in the very late 1970s and early 1980s. It is a brood that has multiplied and now can be found across the nation.
Former Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary calls Johnston “one of my very favorite people in the entire world.” He praised her energy, intelligence and fierce determination to make a life for herself in her adopted homeland.
Full coverage will be coming up. This was just a taste.
THE SUN LIKED JFK: From the history file, back 61 years ago in mid-July 1960.
The editorial page of the Northern Virginia Sun gave some praise to John F. Kennedy, saying he had shown “steadiness and maturity” during the process that led up to his selection as the Democratic nominee for president.
In that same edition, Virginia Gov. Almond went on record predicting Kennedy would win the general election. (Guess it would have been more newsworthy if Almond, who like Kennedy was a Democrat, has said he expected Kennedy to lose the general election, as politician predicting victory of a politician of the same party is not exactly a shocker. But in any event, Almond was right; Kennedy squeaked out a win, nationally, in November.)
CHUCK LED THE JOB-APPROVAL-RATING PACK: Here is another history item, from mid-July 1987 and looking at a poll commissioned by Virginia Democrats.
According to the polling, former Gov. Chuck Robb has an approval rating of 67 percent among Virginians, followed by 59 percent for Gov. Baliles, 55 percent for President Reagan and 49 percent for U.S. Sen. Paul Trible.
One guesses the point of the exercise was to show that Trible, a Republican, could be beaten in the next election, and to maybe quietly encourage him not to seek a new term.
Indeed, Trible opted against seeking another term in 1988, being succeeded by Robb.
- Scott McCaffrey