The Empire of Freedom
Los Angeles—Madalenna Lai arrived on U.S. soil in May ∞Ωπ∑ after fleeing the
Communist takeover of Vietnam in a boat and staying in a Guam refugee camp.
She was ≥∂, penniless and the sole provider for four children, all younger
than ∞≠.
Lai quickly created a career for herself, starting beauty shops in El Monte and
then in Pomona before opening a cosmetology school in Pomona. She raised her
children by herself, although she jokes that at some point some of her children
began raising her.
The Vietnamese refugee sees the life she has cultivated in the United States as
a gift from the people and country that adopted her, she said. In ∞ΩΩ≥, she
decided to thank as many of them as she could and let the world know how
grateful she is.
On New Year’s Day she will do just that to a worldwide television audience
estimated at ≥∑≠ million people and an audience along the parade route of ∞.∑
million. Amid the floral pomp of the Tournament of Roses will come Lai’s version
of a thank-you card: a fully bedecked parade float that suggests the story of the
boat people like her who left Vietnam by sea.
In a year in which the Rose Parade is expected to be awash with red, white
and blue patriotism—plus University of Nebraska red—Lai’s Vietnam-themed
float will carry a simple message from an immigrant: ‘‘Thank you America and the
Los Angeles Times
This is not an analytics of truth; it will concern what might be called an ontology
of the present, an ontology of ourselves.
‘‘The Art of Telling the Truth’’
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