As an American that owns a business that serves many Vietnamese and Vietnamese customers I think I can add something here. I have customers that are both recent immigrants and long term residents here in the USA. I also travel to Vietnam every year for several months.
My customers that are Vietnamese love Vietnam. The recent immigrants travel back home often. They are certainly emotionally connected to Vietnam. The first generation Vietnamese Americans live western lives but most speak the language and maintain cultural ties. Here in New England we have “ Boat People” that came in the 80’s , and recent immigrants. Dorchester Mass. and adjacent communities have thriving ethnic markets, restaurants and other Vietnamese owned businesses.
The Vietnamese Americans have prospered in business and education. They dominate in nail salons and own many restaurants for Pho and Bahn Mi. The west coast has huge communities of Vietnamese that work in IT after starting as assemblers for Atari and other tech businesses.
To say they are ambivalent about America due to the war is not fair. To speak of the atrocities of war as unilateral is unreasonable too. The Viet Cong played a huge role in the rape, killing and torture of the Viet people. The French and the Japanese were not benevolent occupiers either.
The Vietnamese people like the Cambodian people are not ruled by the past. The war is not forgotten but it is not a source or anger or resentment for most people.
The Viet people like Americans. They treat me warmly and sincerely both at my store and when I travel there. To say that the Vietnamese hate the communist government is a minority opinion. The government there does not restrict people or life to a huge degree, I am certain that insiders curry favor with officials but that is universal . Favoritism and cronyism exist in every political system.
Many Vietnamese people would like to immigrate here because there is more economic opportunity. I think they are seduced by the numbers but there is a trap with western life. Higher incomes often lead to higher levels of consumption and western lifestyles can erode family values. Gambling, alcoholism and excessive spending on status symbols often offset higher income and diminish the likelihood of the prosperity that people dream of. Obesity and diabetes are rising in Vietnamese American communities and in Vietnam’s urban centers.
In Vietnam and Southeast Asia people are happy if their children and elders are healthy. Quality of life there is much better at a much lower income level. Westernization is starting to take it’s toll in Vietnam. American fast food and beverages and sedentary lifestyles in urban centers are leading to obesity and diabetes. Overweight has increased in Vietnam 40% in 6 years there. Gaming is part of the problem but fast food chains and American beverages are hugely responsible. I cycle there and I see a much higher percentage of the use of electric bikes by children this year.
Vietnamese people respect Vietnamese American and Americans that are not consumed by ego or arrogance. If you travel there live simply and go with an open heart and an open mind and you will see the beauty of Vietnam and it’s people