On the night of his slaying, Vincent Chin was 27 years old and his future was promising. He was doing well at work in computer graphics, was well liked, and was looking to buy a new home for his wife and his widowed mother. In fact, Vincent’s story typified the experiences of many Asian American immigrants: his father, Chin Wing HIng, came from Guangdong Province to America in search of a new life, which he found in the laundries and restaurants of Detroit. When World War II began, he enlisted, and after serving honorably in the U.S. Army, became eligible for citizenship. As a reward of citizenship, Mr. Chin was permitted to bring his wife, Lily, to this country. There were no children, and a few years later, the couple adopted a five-year-old boy from Guangdong, whom they named Vincent.
Friends and teachers say Vincent was a fun-loving, happy kid. His mother says he could have studied harder, but that he was a good boy, the kind who would help others. When he was nine, he began working in local Chinese restaurants, bussing tables. He had two passions: fishing and reading. “Whenever he had a chance, Vince would try to get to a lake and drop a line–it was his way of relaxing,” remembers boyhood friend Gary Koivu, who was with Vincent the night he died.
And Vincent had a sensitive side to his personality–he often wrote poetry to his fiancee, Vikki Wong. She is trying to renew her life and is reluctant to talk publicly about Vincent, but some memories stand out, such as a Valentine’s Day poem that Vincent placed in a classified section of a local paper:
There is no life without you
There is no joy or laughter
There is no brightness, no warmth
All the mornings after.
So stay with me
And We’ll face the tomorrows
To find if our love
Can overcome the sorrows.
From Chinese American voices: from the gold rush to the present.