Buras veteran cuts ribbon on new homeApr 28th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: news
Peter Bey-Le lost his Buras house to Hurricane Katrina. On April 15, Le, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was given the key to his new house, which was built largely by the efforts of volunteer military personnel.
A life of fight
Peter Bey-Le fought alongside American men and women in Vietnam. During the conflict, Le was taken prisoner and held at the “Hanoi Hilton,” a North-Vietnamese camp infamous for its torturous practices.
Mr. Le was held there for years. He had lost everything in his life, for the first time.
Then, decades later, after Le had immigrated to America, his home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Once again, Le found himself with nothing.
“The devastation that Katrina left changed so many lives in Plaquemines Parish,” said Brad Swayze, State Housing Authority.
But Le’s plight did not go unnoticed. His story and his service moved others to see Le return home.
No greater way to honor, than to serve
As part of this year’s Navy Volunteer Week, local men and women, many from the Naval Air Station in Belle Chasse, gave their time to the five day “blitz” build of Le’s new house, which will include an elevator to make his trips in and out of the raised home easier.
The project started when Le first met with Hong-Hai Hoang at the BPSOS. After hearing Le’s story, the BPSOS got in touch with the United Way and other local agencies, who then partnered with the Navy and other military agents to form the whole cooperative effort, and to build Le his brand new home.
“This house is something that represents everything we strive for,” Benny Puckett, a grant administrator with the Plaquemines Parish Government, said. “To bring someone home who otherwise would not be able to [return].”
One of the groups on hand for the event was The Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders (FCDR). The FCDR had also been involved with Katrina relief work in the Biloxi area, and came to Louisiana upon learning that so many of Plaquemines’ citizens were still reeling from storm damage.
“We had declared victory over Katrina prematurely,” FCDR organizer Bart Tucker said.
The house was nearly completed for the ribbon cutting ceremony, and the FCDR is staying on to finish the work.
“The hard work will resonate every night he steps in his home,” Brad Swayze said.
Former U.S. Representative Joseph Cao was at the ribbon cutting.
“Being a Vietnamese-Americam, I would like to personally thank all our men and women in the armed forces, and especially to Mr. Le, who fought alongside our service men and women during the Vietnam war,” Cao said.
“It would take a superhuman… to endure what the men and women endured in the Vietnam War, and specifically the sacrifices… to provide our American dream,” Cao said about the Vietnamese who made the dream possible for future generations of Vietnamese-American children.
Cao also acted as Le’s translator when he spoke to the crowd. Le said, “I will keep this gift and the love of the people here in my heart.” Le emphasized his gratitude by repeating the statement and drawing his hands over his heart.