Keeping Vigil: Refugee finds success in Spokane - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Keeping Vigil: Refugee finds success in Spokane

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

It was October 2nd at 2 in the morning when Sam Le risked his family's lives to find freedom. Sam was born in the communist state of Vietnam. He served as a combat interpreter for U.S. Special Forces during the war. He credits an American with saving his life.

"When the war was over I was imprisoned in labor camps," says Le.

After several attempts to escape, Sam finally got his chance. The boat his family packed into was filled with refugees willing to die to live the American dream.

"We all came from somewhere to be an American."

After four days of typhoon-like weather their boat found itself on the shores of the Philippines. Eventually Le would set foot on American soil.

Le's past would prepare him for his future, understanding that nothing comes for free.

"Never, ever give up. It's not easy," Le says.

Especially when there are cultural differences and a language barrier to overcome.

"I have to work three times harder and I'm willing to do that. But it's a challenge I'm willing to conquer."

With determination and hard work, Le started a home-based business selling silk flowers back in 1987. Eventually Le would open two high-end furniture stores where loyal customers have been shopping for nearly two decades. Le serves not only his customers, but our community and the Vietnamese community that holds him in high regard. 

Theresa, owner of Waves Salon, thinks of Le as a brother and a mentor.

Henry, the owner of Pho Van who came from Vietnam with only the clothes he was wearing.

"I learned everything from him," Henry says. "How to grow up, how to be a person, how to be nice, how to run a business."

It's the holiday season a time to be thankful and spread good cheer. A time when we can all learn a lesson or two from someone who could be bitter, but chooses to be better.  

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