I came to this country in the mid-eighties as a political refugee. My father fought communist forces in Vietnam for the South Vietnamese military alongside U.S. armed forces. Following the fall of Saigon, our family fled the country by boat and spent nearly three years in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines. We were consequently sponsored to the U.S. by a church and our family eventually settled in California.
When our family first arrived in the U.S., in an effort to help us assimilate, a man whom we all called “Dad” drove his van around town every Friday to take newly settled immigrants on a shopping trip to K-Mart. His wife would then make us dinner and we’d all watch a movie before he’d drop us back at our homes by the end of the evening, marking some most indelible footprints in my heart. I further benefitted from charitable Americans in the form of welfare, Medicaid, federal student aid, and a host of other entitlement programs I’d likely forgotten, which were made available to us to help us get on our feet by hardworking, taxpaying Americans. I became a naturalized American citizen and attended both public and private schools, and subsequently went on to achieve some career highs (and lows) in the private sector, all of which richly contributed to my road to achieving the American dream.
By virtue of being an American, I had achieved the American dream.
I developed an unwavering appreciation for Americans and an allegiance to the country I’ve called home for nearly three decades—the U.S. It’s an appreciation that one who’s never lived beyond the boundaries, safety, and charity of this country perhaps couldn’t possibly fathom. To have been given so much—opportunity, life, and liberty—by a country I cherish, and to subsequently witness its withering growth trajectory during the formative Great Recession years, pained me. The anguish of watching my mother ingest her own wedding band at sea during our escape so as to avoid confiscation by pirates, though compelling, was no match for the desolation I later felt as I watched the country enter what I believed to be an era of not only economic but also cultural decline. Watching segments of misguided and ideologically imbued Americans paint the country I love as the world’s enemy further compounded my need to stand up for well-meaning Americans.
In 2012, after witnessing the gradual decimation of the manufacturing sector and the country’s deteriorating economic fortunes, I founded American Love Affair, an online retailer of only made-in-the-USA products, as a means of aggregating, promoting, and selling consumer products manufactured on American soil. These talented producers, largely SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), managed to survive, thrive, and, in some cases, dominate in the face of increasing global competition.
For underserved consumers who desire American-made products, both domestic and abroad, American Love Affair is not just an online retail destination, but also a symbol of American resilience, diversity, productivity, and fighting spirit. It is the American dream.
The American system is one that leverages the free human spirit to achieve greatness, and, warts and all, the truth remains that the U.S.A. is the most vigilant and successful defender of freedom and capitalism the world has ever known. Americans remain the most just, well-meaning, and vigorous champions of human rights and human capital the world has ever known.
Indeed, American Love Affair stands for my love affair with America. It is my homage to you, my beloved fellow Americans. On this Valentine’s Day, to you, I dedicate this love letter.