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Old 04-30-2010, 08:55 PM   #1
Ben Lahnger
 
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Betty Tisdale, Angel of Saigon

Betty Tisdale, Angel of Saigon

Ben - ABC World News got it right this time with their Person of the Week. Betty Tisdale is an unassuming woman who saved 219 orphans from Saigon before it fell to the North Vietnamese. And within 30 days of flying them to the United States, she had them all placed in good homes. That's my kind of hero.


Betty Tisdale's Heroic Orphan Airlift
35 Years After the Fall of Saigon, Tisdale's Extraordinary Babylift Is Remembered


SOURCE

Thirty-five years ago, the press called her the angel of Saigon -- and hundreds of American families still do.

In the spring of 1975, the fall of Saigon was imminent. Civilians were desperate to get out of Vietnam, and one American woman, Betty Tisdale, was desperate to get them out -- especially the children.

"The first time I went to Vietnam and I found An Lac [orphanage] and they opened the gates to the orphanage, I couldn't believe my eyes," Tisdale said. "I walked into the nursery and I saw babies in rusty cribs with no diapers or rag diapers with one pin."

"I had to help these children. That is what started the whole thing," Tisdale added.

Tisdale spent years raising funds and volunteering for the An Lac orphanage. She raised money, gathered donations and made several trips to Vietnam herself.

But in 1975, as the Viet Cong drew closer to Saigon, hundreds of the orphans' lives were at stake.

"I knew I had to go over and bring those children back," Tisdale said. "I had no idea how to do -- where I was going to put them. I had to find planes, a place for them, find parents for them."



She needed permission from the South Vietnamese government to let the children leave the country. Finally, the government agreed to let children under the age of 10 go -- as long as they had birth certificates to prove their age.

"We really didn't have birth certificates," Tisdale said. "So we went out and got blank certificates and filled them all in."

Tisdale needed a place for the children to stay once they arrived in the U.S., so she picked up the phone and called the secretary of the Army.

"He didn't return my call, so I called his mother," she said. "She said, 'I'll do the best I can.'"

That's how Tisdale found a school at Ft. Benning, Georgia, that promised to house the children.

She then persuaded the American Air Force to find planes and the exodus of the orphans of An Lac began.

Babies and children were loaded onto the planes. The babies, some newborns, were carried handmade baskets and then transferred to cardboard boxes that were placed on the floor.

Rescued An Lac Orphans Thrive Today

In all, 219 were airlifted out of the country, and all were adopted within 30 days of arriving in the U.S.

"Without her, I wouldn't be here, bottom line, and it's just a blessing to have had the opportunities I've been given," said Dan Burkholder, who was a baby on the airlift.

"There are few people who I think dedicate every minute of their life to helping other people," said Vikki Sloviter, who was also on the airlift. "I think few people can say what an impact one person has had in so many lives."

Many of the children from An Lac now have successful careers and are raising families of their own.

"She's given us such a gift, and I think it's our obligation to just live quality lives and do our best," said Adam Strouse. "That's the best gift we can give her."

"We were all her children, and she would come and give you the warmest hug and say you know you have another mother in me," said Elizabeth Berg.

Tisdale, who adopted five orphans of her own, is now 87 and is still devoted to helping children in orphanages around the world. Next week, she plans to travel to Haiti to help children orphaned by the earthquake.

Ben - If you click on the SOURCE hyperlink above, there's a link at the bottom of the first page where you can visit the website of Tisdale's charity foundation, if you would like to do so.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:41 PM   #2
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What a wonderful lady, and still helping at her age!
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Old 04-30-2010, 10:53 PM   #3
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It is good to see an orphan get a home, however, implying the Vietnamese could not provide homes themselves or much like the current fiasco in Haiti with the missionaries one has to ask are they really better off being taken from their country and put in America by an American who is doing it only because they think their country is somehow superior.

It bothers me they portray the 'fall' of Saigon to the end of the world, when the reality is the country unified itself without the interference o outside nations.

What did they think the North Vietnamese were going to do? Eat the children? Because thats what commies do?

Even reading the context in the article above is a bit condescending and a bit racist.
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Old 05-01-2010, 08:05 AM   #4
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Sternn, that's ridiculous. People died during that invasion. You can debate what might have happened to those children had they been left behind (an exercise I would suggest is futile as we cannot know), but there's no debating the fact that those 219 children LIVED. And Betty Tisdale was there, while you were not. Unless you are questioning her motivations, which I think would be spectacularly stupid, I think it's fair to trust her judgment (and the judgment of the South Vietnamese government that decided it was a good idea for her to take those orphans.) Actually, you were questioning her motivation - suggesting that she was "only" doing it because she thought her country was somehow superior. You actually think she didn't care about those kids ... that she was just instituting a propaganda campaign?

And asking "are they really better off being taken from their country and put in America by an American who is doing it only because they think their country is somehow superior" suggests that adopting a foreign baby is a selfish and harmful act. That is also ridiculous ... and a bit of reverse racism. I saw nothing in that article that supports that ... except the fact that when Betty first got involved with the Orphanage the babies were being kept in very poor conditions, which suggests that America WAS a superior place to raise the children. The idea of moving the children to the U.S. only occurred to Betty after the impending arrival of the North Vietnamese appeared to be a threat to their well-being ... she was first involved for some time just trying to improve the conditions at the orphanage.

Your continual anti-American bias does not always serve you well. You are misguided in this opinion. I've not heard any of those 219 orphans who wish they had been left behind.
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:39 AM   #5
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I find it funny how she ended up calling the Secretary of the Army's mother. I wonder what the conversation Between the Secretary of the Army and his mother was like.
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:33 AM   #6
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testing to these threads
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Lahnger View Post
Sternn, that's ridiculous. People died during that invasion. You can debate what might have happened to those children had they been left behind (an exercise I would suggest is futile as we cannot know), but there's no debating the fact that those 219 children LIVED. And Betty Tisdale was there, while you were not. Unless you are questioning her motivations, which I think would be spectacularly stupid, I think it's fair to trust her judgment (and the judgment of the South Vietnamese government that decided it was a good idea for her to take those orphans.) Actually, you were questioning her motivation - suggesting that she was "only" doing it because she thought her country was somehow superior. You actually think she didn't care about those kids ... that she was just instituting a propaganda campaign?

And asking "are they really better off being taken from their country and put in America by an American who is doing it only because they think their country is somehow superior" suggests that adopting a foreign baby is a selfish and harmful act. That is also ridiculous ... and a bit of reverse racism. I saw nothing in that article that supports that ... except the fact that when Betty first got involved with the Orphanage the babies were being kept in very poor conditions, which suggests that America WAS a superior place to raise the children. The idea of moving the children to the U.S. only occurred to Betty after the impending arrival of the North Vietnamese appeared to be a threat to their well-being ... she was first involved for some time just trying to improve the conditions at the orphanage.

Your continual anti-American bias does not always serve you well. You are misguided in this opinion. I've not heard any of those 219 orphans who wish they had been left behind.
Oh, I didn't see this. Thanks random person who bumped? Anyway, it did happen, in which people found out that "orphans" sent to America turned out not to be orphans after all, some where given away by their parents since they were afraid that they might be killed in the crossfire, and some were separated from their parents and they never found each other until the children were able to visit Vietnam and look for them. There is a lot of kidnapping in some countries too for terrible adopt agencies, I don't think considering the atrocities that happened in Vietnam that its a stretch to say that it could have happened. That said, thats totally not what Betty did.
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:04 PM   #8
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Sternn,
I registered so that I could reply JUST to your naive comment. Mrs. Tisdale's heroism literally SAVED the lives of these 219 orphans. I can guarantee(and bet my life on it) that ALL these orphans had a better live, or at least, a better opportunity for a better life solely because of this lady's action 35 years ago. You really need to understand the time, events, and consequences of the 'Vietnam War' and the 'fall of Saigon' at that particular time in order to fully comprehend the great significance of what Mrs. Tisdale did.

Yes, the 'fall' of Saigon WAS the end of the world for thousands and hundreds of thousands of people! It was for my parents, for my aunts/uncles, and for many many others. For them, their lives, LITERALLY, turned upside down OVERNIGHT when the Communist North Vietnamese soldiers marched in and took over the capital. Yes they did reunified the country, but it was NOT without the interference of outside country...it was under the watchful eyes of its big brother, Communist China.

I can safely assume that Sternn has never lived under any form of Communism. If you did, you will not be so naive to much such comments....
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:35 PM   #9
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Does it matter what country they grow up in, as long as they have loving parents, and their needs are met?
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:54 PM   #10
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Exactly. There are many happy kids in Vietnam and China.
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:12 PM   #11
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Again, I don't see why you make these comments when the South Vietnamese government okayed the plan? THEY thought the kids would be better off in America than staying put. That makes all this hindsight and questioning the American's motivation kinda moot, don't you think?
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:15 PM   #12
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Ok really now where will their needs be met better?

Warzone?

Land of oppourtunity?

At the time, for the kids to have a normal life, it was best to get them away from the fighting.
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CptSternn View Post
It bothers me they portray the 'fall' of Saigon to the end of the world, when the reality is the country unified itself without the interference o outside nations.
You speak of "unification" as if it were a peaceful, bloodless process. How many supporters of the Southern Vietnamese government were cast into prison for years, if not decades, just for being on the losing side? How many thousands if not tens and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees died while fleeing South Vietnam? How many lost everything they had; money, possesions, homes, families? How many had to take whatever ship they could come across, not knowing where they would end up?

As a first generation Vietnamese American I can tell you that my family has made certain that I never confuse "unification" with "peace". My uncles, who worked as support for the South Vietnamese military, were imprisoned for several years after the war. My father, who was born and raised in Saigon and was a fighter pilot in the South Vietnamese Air Force only barely managed to escape pursuing Viet Cong as they invaded his air base when Saigon fell. My aunt watched her best friend get ***** right in front of her eyes by Tonkin Pirates. My grandmother and grandfather had no choice by to separate their children, some to France, some to America, not knowing if or when they'd ever be together again.

It is too easy for you to sit there across the Atlantic and make judgments on the actions of people whose personal motivations you cannot know, and whose situations you did not experience. For my part, I thank God for people like the good Ms. Tisdale. If so many Vietnamese risked their lives escaping a corrupt communist government, why should she be blamed for wanting to do the same for helpless, family-less children?
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