You know the old expression, “it’s not the quantity, but the quality.” When it comes to meeting people this is no different. In my case for the past couple of years, I have had both when it comes to meeting new people. Fortunately all the people I have met have great qualities and talent about them. The common theme here is the desire to not forget about our past history, and to let the world know that as a group we have not only survived but thrived. Whatever hardship was presented to us, we figured out some way around it, over it, or sometimes through it!
In early 2013, I was informed by my network that someone from a production studio in the Hollywood area would reach out to me. Here is a snippet of the actual email sent from Keven McAlester, Moxie Firecracker Films, on 1/9/13.
“Hi Miki, My name's Keven McAlester, I'm writing/producing a documentary on the Fall of Saigon. The film's director is Rory Kennedy. Here's a bit of information about who we are and what we're doing. The project is a two-hour documentary for PBS's "American Experience" series, produced by WGBH-TV in Boston. The director/producer, and the woman whose creative vision is driving the project, is named Rory Kennedy.”
“And here's a brief description of this film that Rory wrote. <<"The Last Days of Vietnam," which I'm making for PBS's American Experience series, takes as its subject the final week of the Vietnam War. What's struck me as the most unheralded and moving part of this story, and what I plan to focus the film on, is the bravery and resolve of men who worked tirelessly to save tens of thousands of South Vietnamese lives. More specifically, I plan to center the second half of the film around the rescue operations conducted by the U.S.S. Kirk, and the film will be largely comprised of firsthand accounts from the soldiers and refugees aboard the ship and at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. The ship's Con Son Island mission stands as one of the great untold humanitarian-rescue stories of the war.">>
The email ends with an invitation to be a part of this project. Without hesitation, I said Yes! A few weeks later (1/25/13), I find myself sitting across from and being interviewed by Rory Kennedy. Needless to say I was a bit nervous that day – and yes, I got caught up in the Kennedy mystique as well. There is another expression that says, “it's not what you say, it's how you make the other person feel.” On this day, she made me feel at ease, and it was a joy to work with her. She is classy and true to the Kennedy glamour-brand.
We filmed in northern San Diego that day. It was just Mr. Stuart Herrington and me. I recall standing behind the camera and watching Rory and Mr. Herrington talk about his experience. I was like a little boy again listening in awe to Mr. Herrington talk and recall his days in Saigon. That man has an incredible memory! They had to cut out many amazing stories he shared, otherwise the film would be like 10 hours long. Lastly I remember during lunch, Rory was so generous and gracious. She was the last one to eat lunch after walking around and offering everyone food and drinks. She made sure everyone was fed first!
I am older than Rory by 11 days. The contrast of our lives, especially in the early days, is clear. At the age of 6.5 Rory probably had all the material things any young girl would want in life! I only had my shirt and pants when I jumped down from the helicopter. The only commonality at 6.5 -- we both had loving, caring, and supportive parent(s). Now at 46, we both want to share a message of “bravery and resolve of men who worked tirelessly to save tens of thousands of … [insert a good cause here].” On 1/25/13, I met some really amazing people that day! Rory and the film inspired me to be more aware of the world around me. You don't have to be mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama to help others - strive to make others "feel good" around you on daily basis.