Last weekend, FEE hosted its “Heroes of Courage and Liberty” seminar at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Inspired by the book Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction by FEE’s President Lawrence W. Reed, the seminar’s almost 100 attendees heard personal stories from individuals who took extreme risks to advocate for freedom—and persevered throughout some of the most extreme circumstances a human can endure. Speakers included Dr. Doan Viet Hoat, Dr. Isaac Chung, and Michael Lella, all of whom have inspiring stories of perseverance of character in the face of tyranny.
Dr. Doan Viet Hoat was held as a political prisoner in Communist Vietnam for nearly 20 years, including four years in solitary confinement. His stories of mental and emotional endurance and his drive to, as he put it, “make the abnormal, normal” in the face of such adversity were incredible. It was an excellent reminder of both the endurance of the human spirit and the dangers of socialism—and the oppression that is still very much present in many parts of the world.
You can read more about Dr. Hoat’s inspiring story here.
His story is a reminder of how important it is for those escaping oppression to have a haven of freedom and opportunity to escape to.
Dr. Isaac Chung is a living example of the American Dream—one of eleven children from a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee family who escaped the Vietnamese Communist regime in the late 1970s. When seeking refuge, they were turned away by every country in the region and even abused by some before being sent back out to sea to perish. Their small boat, packed with over 30 thirsty, hungry, and sick people adrift in the middle of the ocean, was rescued by a private vessel as part of Operation Seasweep organized by Stan Mooneyham. The Chung family was quickly sponsored by a small Baptist church and settled in Arkansas. Dr. Chung’s father worked hard for the rest of his life, eventually buying a family car, a house, and sending him and his siblings to prestigious colleges.
The risk his family took and the suffering they endured to flee Communist Vietnam highlighted how much people will sacrifice for the chance to be free. His family’s story is a powerful reminder of how important it is for those escaping oppression to have a haven of freedom and opportunity to escape to... and it is here. Dr. Chung’s story reinforced how critical it is that we sustain our liberty, opportunity, and prosperity in the United States—without it, there are precious few places to which those escaping tyranny can flee.
You can read more about Dr. Chung’s family’s incredible story in the book Where the Wind Leads: A Refugee Family's Miraculous Story of Loss, Rescue, and Redemption.
It was inspiring to hear about the incredible work and risk undertaken by one man to help end one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.
Michael Lella told the story of his Italian father’s work as an Allied spy in World War II. While a teenager in Italy, he helped Jews escape the country through the Alps. Later, after his parents forced him to enlist in the German army under the belief that it would keep him safe, he was positioned to smuggle secrets from the German High Command to the Allies. It was inspiring to hear about the incredible work and risk undertaken by one man to help end one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.
The amazing story of Michael’s father, which is also recounted in the novel Beneath a Scarlet Sky can be read here.
The seminar also highlighted screenings of two popular FEE videos. The first video centered around activist Daryl Davis and his courageous efforts as an African-American man traveling the country to convert members of the Ku Klux Klan away from their white supremacist views simply by having conversations and forming friendships. The video can be view here. The second video told the story of former FEE intern and Venezuelan activist Jorge Jraissati who is fighting to restore Venezuela’s freedom and prosperity which have been devastated by the country's oppressive socialist regime.
Participants left the seminar with a renewed appreciation for the courageous acts of individuals in the face of nearly impossible situations.
A very special thanks to Loving Liberty, the Woodford Foundation of Colorado Springs, and the Center for the Study of Government and the Individual at UCCS for their co-sponsorship of this program.