The Pham Family Heritage
To this day, Thu Pham Arnold, Designer Sylist for Visage Salon & Day Spa, tells her children what it really means to live the American dream. And the Pham family is more versed in the value of freedom than most, because in 1975, they fled Vietnam during The Fall of Saigon.
Lee and Thu were just toddlers at the time, and their parents owned a hair salon in Saigon. As invading armies closed in, members of the US Military rushed the Pham family out and crammed them onto a cargo ship packed full of other refugees.
As the city they knew and loved was overcome by enemies, the Pham’s ship embarked upon a torturous nine day voyage to the US. They had hardly any food, no bathrooms and little potable water. Refugees slept in confining squares of space. Bao Pham, who was an infant at the time, almost died.
“If it was not for the bravery and sacrifice of American servicemen and women, my family would not be living in the greatest nation in the world. Life as we know it would not exist,” Thu told The Houston Chronicle during a 2013 interview.
When their mother, Danielle, was unable to get enough food to eat and couldn’t nurse little Bao, their father, Binh, got scraps of bread from the ship kitchen. He put them in a cup with some water, and mashed them into a paste. They kept their baby alive by giving him drops of mashed bread off their fingers.
“We’ve heard the stories as children,” said Bao, “but as grown adults we could not fathom.”
They will never get to meet the brave military officers who helped their family escape Saigon, but that doesn’t stop the Pham’s from giving back. Bao has volunteered at Camp Hope, giving free haircuts to veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Visage has also hosted special events during which they offer free services to veterans, firemen, EMTs and law enforcement officers.