Promoted from diaries. – Moe Lane
The story of newly-elected Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao, Republican of the Second District of Louisiana, embodies everything good and optimistic about our Republic.
Not only is it the story of his stunning upset victory over career kleptocrat William Jefferson, Democrat of New Orleans, it is the story of the hope that our wonderful country offers to the downtrodden and oppressed of the world.
What particularly touched me in this story is learning of the history of Cao’s family and their brutal treatment at the hands of their Communist countrymen in Vietnam. I can only imagine their pride and sense of accomplishment in seeing their son’s inauguration as a U.S. Congressman.
Cao’s father, a lieutenant in the South Vietnamese Army, was soon after [the fall of Saigon] sent to a Communist “re-education camp, ” where he spent seven years. Cao’s mother remained in Vietnam to raise her other five daughters and wait for her husband’s release. She was able to visit her husband only five times in seven years. They now live with one of Cao’s sisters near Mary Queen of Vietnam, the Catholic Church that is the center of New Orleans’ thriving Vietnamese community. …
[Cao’s parents] arrived on Capitol Hill just as their son was heading to the ceremonies. His mother, Khang Thi Tran, 73, wheeled her husband of 50 years, My Quang Cao, 77, round-faced and wearing a gray wool cap, from the Rayburn House Office Building to the Capitol, up ramps, into and out of elevators, and eventually to a special spot in the House gallery.
Cao’s father, who his family says suffers both from diabetes and post-traumatic stress disorder, spends most of his days sitting alone in a darkened room listening to Vietnamese-language radio. He seldom talks.
His daughter said his seven years in what she called a “concentration camp” only led him to hate the Communists more, a judgment he affirmed with a nod and a firm expression.
Neither of the parents speaks much English, though Cao’s mother is a citizen who was able to vote for her son.
While he was in the Communist-run camp, the elder Cao wrote his son in America. “He told him to do something to help society, ” said Thanh Tran, Cao’s sister in Falls Church, who left for America with Cao and another brother in 1975, though they were soon separated.
Tran said their highest ambition for their son was that he become a priest, an even more exalted status, in their mind, than a member of Congress. Cao studied six years to be a Jesuit priest before choosing politics.