A Big Leap for Iowans

Former US Ambassador to Cambodia Kenneth M. Quinn talks about Iowans welcoming refugees from Southeast Asia in 1975.


But the refugee effort became something that everybody could feel pretty good about and could feel that it was something about Vietnam that wasn't divisive. Everyone could agree, whatever they felt about the war itself that here were people who would have been in danger, here were people who needed to start new lives and here were people who we could open our homes to, open our state to and welcome them. I have to stress, I think, in this time in the early 21st century there's a lot of different-looking people who live in Iowa and we're pretty used to that. But that certainly wasn't the case in 1975. It was very, very unusual for Asians to be here. And there was no, you know, sort of understanding really of who people were, where they were coming from. And it was a difficult challenge because this was a very big leap.

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