Thank you to all of those readers who have recently signed up on Facebook and friended me. For those of you who have chosen to take the pledge and Pray for Our Troops, this story is well worth another read. . .
Coast-to-coast trek to honor troops passes through the Shreveport-Bossier City area
By Adam Kealoha Causey
Blistered feet and dead toenails seem a minor inconvenience to cross-country trekker Sinh Tho Nguyen, who is walking 2,300 miles to honor those who paid the ultimate price.
The Vietnam-born Nguyen’s trip brought him through northwest Louisiana on Wednesday. The 40-year-old man started his journey June 10 in Atlantic Beach, Fla., east of Jacksonville. He plans to keep moving — with a star-spangled banner in tow — till he reaches San Diego.
“I think compared to what the troops do out there, this is nothing,” said Nguyen, now 800 miles into his hike. “For me, it’s an honor to carry the American flag,”
National identity for Nguyen, now a U.S. citizen and Army and National Guard veteran, is wrapped into his family history. His father was an American soldier during the Vietnam War, he said during a short break along U.S. Highway 80 near Bossier Parish Community College.
Though he never met the man, Nguyen said he owes him and others a debt of gratitude.
“I hope he’s still alive,” he said with tears, but Nguyen said he fears his dad was among the 58,000 U.S. soldiers killed in Vietnam.
That’s why sore feet, to this highway hiker, don’t seem like atonement.
But for dozens of Shreveport-Bossier City area residents, Nguyen’s actions deserved a horn honk, a wave or some food.
James Ashbrook offered Nguyen some free tomatoes and a cantaloupe from his roadside stand across from Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
“I asked if he was hungry, and we gave him a few,” Ashbrook said. “I think it’s thoughtful of him. It’d take a lot to drive me to do it.”
A woman paid for a meal each for Nguyen and his travel buddy, David Dominguez, at the Waffle House just down the road. Farther westward in Bossier City, a man bought Nguyen a liter of fruit juice and a big bottle of beer. The traveler politely declined the alcohol.
Dominguez, who worked with Nguyen as a contracted water meter reader in Fort Worth, Texas, now drives Nguyen’s daily path just in case the walker needs some help. The 25-year-old also keeps a mileage log and donations list. Dominguez agreed to quit his job to join Nguyen because his dedication inspired him.
Nguyen saved money for two years for this trip. The pair spends one night a week in a hotel and otherwise sleeps in a tent or vehicle.
“When he told me, I jumped on it,” Dominguez said. “We have a little budget. But the people are the greatest. That’s a lot of motivation.”
Motorists may spot Nguyen’s flag and a sign that reads “SHORE TO SHORE: A Walk Across America To Honor Those Who Serve!” He meant to see the Pacific by October. Now, he predicts it could be November or December since he is slowing down as word of his trip gets around.
His record walk — mostly in flip flops, because they dry fast and are inexpensive — is 31 miles in 24 hours. But as of midday Wednesday, he had logged only eight.
Nguyen hopes one day Hollywood will pick up his story. If selling it could make a profit, he pledges to donate the revenue to helping the military and its members’ families.
“The freedom does cost,” Nguyen said, “and we can’t buy the freedom with money.”
To offer Sinh Tho Nguyen your thoughts, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
From my mailbag:
Bill Hamilton’s column
” Recently I was able to contact a live relative that I didn’t know existed. I was pretty excited! She is my 2nd cousin once removed. My great grandfather is her grandfather’s brother. Even though this is a site devoted to West Carroll ..”
“On February 5, 1863, on a cold winter’s day, Catherine Shelby Blackburn, the widow of Dr. David Flournoy Blackburn, after her family’s property had been confiscated; chickens, hogs, and other livestock, with the exception of one good …”
The Louisiana Surnames Louisiana Researchers database is nearly reaching its third or fourth page, now! You should check it out.