As my generation and I watch history being made with the arrival of an American president in Laos for the very first time, I appreciate the moment with guarded optimism. Our intertwined history together gives many reasons to appreciate the gestures and promises of friendship very carefully.
With both nations nominally democratic republics, going forward, we ALL must participate in a process that ensures accountability and equity, harmony and prosperity. To do any less, to fail the responsibilities of civic engagement and expression would open the floodgates in both nations to disparity. We would fail the sacrifices of generations who believed in the absolute principles of freedom and self-determination in the modern world. We would fail our families in both nations.
There is much both Laos and the United States have to teach other. There is much to respect and admire, even as there is much we can critique. We must remember that critique without a commitment to change is worthless.
But as always, we must dare to hope, and to consider our legacies to the world. We must always remember, but we must also transform. Today must NOT be seen as the closure of a chapter, but an opening of a gate to a wondrous road ahead, infinite in possibility.