Refugees have been welcomed here before

November 17th, 2015 by Ken

Governor Jay Inslee’s comments that Washington state will welcome Syrian refugees brings back memories of the Vietnam War.   While nearly two dozen state governors have said they won’t accept any of the 10,000 refugees in their state from the Syrian war Inslee has said “We have been and will continue to be a state that embraces compassion and eschews fear-mongering.”

The governor’s comments bring memories of the 1970’s and the large number of Vietnamese refugees streaming into our country after the war.    Many of them were arriving in California and the state was over-whelmed by them.    California Governor Jerry Brown said he wouldn’t take any more Vietnamese and even tried to stop one of the planes, carrying refugees, from landing.

Washington Governor Dan Evans, in his third term, heard about the refugee problem and ordered one of his staff members – -future Secretary of State Ralph Munro – –  to fly to California and see what he could do to help with the problem.   Evans told Munro to remind the California governor what it said on the Statue of Liberty.

It was through the efforts of Evans and Munro, that some 3000 Vietnamese refugees were re-settled in Washington state many of them right here in Thurston County.   Not only have they assimilated into the state’s culture, but have become an integral  part in what this state has always been – a place for refugees to make a new start.

My own family were refugees of sorts.   They came to Washington from Iowa during the Great Depression, after they lost their farms – just like thousands of others from the midwest did.

Granted, refugees from Syria are different than refugees from Iowa – or Vietnam – for that matter.  But compassion should know no economic, cultural or religious bounds.

Posted in Government, History, The Real News

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