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In the summer of 1975, my family landed in Pennsylvania as refugees from the war in Vietnam. For a couple of months, we lived in a refugee camp at Fort Indiantown Gap. Recently I asked my father about the man who sponsored us so that we could leave the camp, and my father sent me a photocopy of the recommendation written for him by Joseph H. Windish. In Mr. Windish’s words, my father is “trustworthy and stable” and a “family man, having a wife and two children who he has obviously taken care of well.” So I appear in Mr. Windish’s letter, my first time, so far as I know, described in English.
I have no memory of Mr. Windish, an Army veteran of the Korean War who died in 2012 at 79. His obituary does not mention that he sponsored my family or helped my father find work, or that his generosity to strangers eventually led to the following additions to the United States: three generations of eight citizens, four native-born; a substantial amount of wealth (and taxes) generated by my hard-working parents, who started off as custodians in Harrisburg, Pa., and ended up as entrepreneurs in San Jose, Calif.; and undergraduate and doctoral degrees for my parents’ children and grandchildren from Stanford, Harvard and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles.