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6 Vietnamese Americans Given Life-Achievement Awards


WESTMINSTER — Six prominent Vietnamese Americans from Orange and Los Angeles counties were given lifetime achievement awards here Sunday for creative work they began at least two decades ago in Vietnam and pursue today in their adopted homeland.

A writer, journalist, sculptor, actress and two musicians received the awards from the Committee of Vietnamese Overseas Artists, a nonprofit group headquartered in Little Saigon. Organizers hope the awards will become an annual event.

Since arriving in America after the 1975 fall of Saigon, Vietnamese refugees have achieved success in literature and the fine and performing arts, said actress and award-winner Kieu Chinh, who appeared in Oliver Stone's movie "The Joy Luck Club."

"With 20 years of rise and fall," the L.A.-based actress said in a speech opening the awards ceremony, "with many deceased and many alive, with a generation passing and another coming, Vietnamese literature and arts have become a . . . string knotting all Vietnamese generations together around the world."

Also receiving awards were Viet Hung, an Anaheim musician who performs traditional Vietnamese music; Nguyen Thanh Thu, a Garden Grove sculptor; and Nguyen Viet Khanh, a journalist who works for Santa Ana's Viet Bao Kinh Te newspaper. Other L.A.-based winners were Vo Phien, a novelist and short-story writer; and Le Trong Nguyen, a musician and composer.

Vietnamese artists performed at the awards event, dubbed Artists Reunion Day and held at the First Presbyterian Church of Orange County. About 1,000 people from as far away as Australia attended the event.

Many such cultural performances are planned for "Project 20," a yearlong commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the first Vietnam War refugees' arrival in the United States, running this Thanksgiving through next. Organizers of the project include members of the Garden Grove-based Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Assn.

Orange County is home to about 100,000 Vietnamese, who make up the country's largest Vietnamese community, most living in Westminster, Garden Grove and Fountain Valley.

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