After the Fall

After the Fall:

Stories of Survival, Hope and Resilience

On April 30, 1975, the North Vietnamese army invaded and Saigon fell. The lives of many Vietnamese, Khmer, Lao, Hmong, and Americans were upended. Join us for an evening of sharing personal stories from Mainers who experienced the war and its aftermath -- and prevailed.

Event flyer: Acholi, Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese

This event took place on April 28th, 2021. See below for recordings of the sessions and resources.

Slideshow Presentation:

Presenter Biographies:

CHRISTOPHER M. BEAM has devoted his professional life to the study of the past as an archivist and teacher. From 1977 to 1988, he worked at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where he spent more than four years processing the Nixon White House tapes, worked with diplomatic documents, and served on the staff that appraised federal records. From 1988 to 2005, he was director of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and college archivist at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and a lecturer in the college’s History Department.

Since 1989, he has also taught a wide variety of topics in history at the University of Southern Maine, Bates College, Central Maine Community College, University of New England and American Public University System. These include numerous courses on the Vietnam War, the Nixon presidency, the Afghanistan conflict, and all phases of U.S., Western European and world history. Most of the courses have been taught in a conventional setting, but since 2007, he has directed a large number of online history courses. More about Christopher can be found here.

ROTHA CHAN - In 1985 Rotha Chan, his mother, and two sisters were resettled in Biddeford, Maine as refugees, having survived the Killing Fields of Cambodia. He received his BS degree from Boston University with a major in International Relations and concentration in Rural Economic Development. Rotha has served several financial institutions in Maine and New Hampshire and has been in banking for over twenty years, currently serving as Vice President/Commercial Credit Manager at TD Bank. Rotha, his partner, and two sons reside in Saco, Maine. Rotha is a founding member of The Killing Field Survivors’ Society, founding member of the Asian-American Heritage Foundation, has served on the Diversity Committee of United Way of Greater Portland, and on the Board of Tax Assessment Appeal for the City of Saco, Maine. Rotha is currently serving as a Board of Director of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation and the Anna Astvatsaturian Foundation. He is a Board Advisor of the United Asian Community, Cambodian Community Association, and the Greater Portland Welcome Center.

CAITLIN HUYNH - Caitlin Huynh is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees. She is a student at Portland High School and in 2020 Caitlin was the recipient of the Rising Tide Leadership Award. She is an athlete and a scholar.

DOUG RAWLINGS - Doug Rawlings was drafted and sent to Vietnam on July 2, 1969, where he joined the 7/15th Artillery. Sixteen years later, he was one of five people who formed the organization Veterans for Peace. He is the Maine Chapter President. He has taught at the University of Maine, Farmington, where he ran their Developmental Writing program.

THEARY LENG RYDER - Theary was born and raised in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She has a BA in business and earned English proficiency certificate in Singapore. She is a nationally qualified medical and legal interpreter and translator for the Khmer language.S he is currently a full time medical interpreter for Maine Health. Theary volunteered extensively in Cambodia and is a founding member and current President of Imagine Cambodia Foundation, a non profit organization that cares for orphaned and vulnerable children. She is also a board member of the Cambodian Community Association of Maine.

THUY NGUYEN SULLIVAN - Thuy Sullivan was born in Hue (Hway), Vietnam, and grew up as Nguyen Thi Xuan Thuy in a home within the walls of the old imperial capital. After graduating from business college in Danang in 1992, she met her future husband in Hue. They relocated to Portland in 1995, and Thuy returned to school for a bachelor’s degree in accounting at USM. After taking time out to raise two children, she returned to the workaday world as an interpreter and now works as a Vietnamese Parent Community Specialist at Portland Public Schools. Her work as a bridge-builder between educators and student families has expanded to include work as a navigator of legal, medical, and governmental issues. Thuy is also a member of UAC, Unified Asian Communities.

Poetry by Doug Rawlings:


for Phan Thi Kim Phuc

"Whatever you run from becomes your shadow."-- traditional

If you're a namvet, a survivor of sorts,

she'll come for you across the decades

casting a shadow in the dying light of your dreams,

naked and nine, terror in her eyes

Of course you will have to ignore her --

if you wish to survive over the years --

but then your daughters will turn nine

and then your granddaughters nine

As the shadows lengthen.

So, you will have no choice on that one night

screaming down the Ridge Road, lights off,

under a full moon, she standing in the middle of the road,

still naked and nine, terror in her eyes

Now you must stop to pick her up, to carry her back

home to where she came from, to that gentle

village where the forgiving and the forgiven

gather at high noon. There are no shadows.

-- Doug Rawlings

Translated into Vietnamse by Lucy Do


dành tặng Phan Thị Kim Phúc

“Bất cứ thứ gì bạn chạy đi đều trở thành cái bóng của bạn” – châm ngôn

Khi anh cựu chiến binh, người sống sót sau những ngày bom đạn

hình ảnh ấy sẽ theo anh qua bao thập kỷ,

chiếc bóng hằn lên ánh sáng trong những giấc mơ đen

chín tuổi, trần truồng, mắt nai sợ hãi

Anh tất nhiên phải cố quên cô bé ấy --

để tiếp tục đời mình trong những trang kế tiếp --

nhưng đến lúc bé gái con anh lên chín

hay đứa cháu ngây thơ vừa tròn chín tuổi

Khi bóng xế đêm dài

Và một đêm anh không còn lựa chọn

tiếng kêu thét trên đường đê trong đêm tối không đèn

dưới ánh trăng rằm cô bé đứng giữa đường

vẫn chín tuổi, trần truồng, mắt nai hoảng sợ

Giờ anh bế bé lên nhẹ nhõm

đưa em về lại mái ấm thân thương

ngôi làng hiền hòa, nơi kẻ vị tha và người được ân xá

hòa hợp cùng nhau giữa buổi trưa đứng bóng . Đời không hắt bóng.

-- Doug Rawlings


for Chuck Searcy and the thousands of Vietnamese who have labored off and on since 1975, working to undo what we have done

So I was maybe all of twenty-one

when they whipped me

into some kind of soul-less shape

Yet another one of America's

weeping mothers' sons

sent forth into this world

to raze, pillage, and rape

And now it's coming on

to another Christmas Eve

And songs of joy and peace

fill up our little town

How I ask myself

could I possibly believe

I could do what I did

and not reap what I had sown

In that land far away

from what I call home

a grandfather leads

his granddaughter by the hand

Into a field where we did

what had to be done

They trip into a searing heat

brighter than a thousand suns


Doug Rawlings

7/15th Artillery

Vietnam 1969-1970


Thân tặng Chuck Searcy và hàng ngàn người bạn Việt Nam đang miệt mài công tác hàn gắn vết thương chiến tranh

Năm tôi hai mươi mốt

quân đội kéo tôi vào

những tháng ngày binh nghiệp

Người mẹ chiến binh Mỹ

rơi lệ thảm vì con

Bị gửi ra tiền tuyến

tàn phá, cướp giết và hãm hiếp

Và nay mùa lễ hội

trước ngày Chúa Giáng Sinh

Vui khúc ca hòa bình

tràn ngập thị trấn nhỏ

Tôi tự vấn thân mình

rằng tôi có thể tin

Những gì tôi đã làm

mà không gặt quả gieo

Nơi miền đất xa xôi

cách nhà tôi vạn dặm

Một cụ già dắt cháu

tay bé gái xinh xinh

Thả bước trên cánh đồng

nơi chúng tôi đã làm

những nhiệm vụ được giao

Hai ông cháu sẩy chân

ngã vào vùng lửa bỏng

nóng hơn ngàn mặt trời


Doug Rawlings

Vietnam Draft Essay by Steven Price:

Vietnam Draft Essay