This young man is dead.
On Monday, April 24th he was shot during a robbery at the restaurant he was managing. His name is Sonethavy Phomsouvanhdara. He was 29 years old. He was an immigrant.
I didn’t know him and I didn’t know he had been shot until Wednesday when I was talking to a merchant whose store is across the street from the restaurant. The merchant is also an immigrant. It was from her that I learned the significance of the fact that he was an immigrant.
She explained to me how citizens in other countries view America as a place of hope and how families work together to get one person over here. Sonethavy was the “number one son”, the one his family pinned their hopes for the future on. He was working hard, sending money home, and had already brought his father over. He was working at that restaurant to learn the skills he needed to open his own restaurant. He was close to realizing his dreams.
Sonethavy represents everything America stands for. The hard working immigrant who over came amazing obstacles to fulfill a dream. But in Sonethavy’s case, and for many immigrants like him, it was not only his dream he was fulfilling but also the dreams of his entire family. And in one brief instant his family’s dreams where shattered. So the robber turned murderer has not only stolen $300, the life of one young man, a father, a husband, a son, but also the hopes and dreams of his extended family.
Whenever someone dies in a violent unexpected manner it’s a tragedy. For Sonethavy, everything he could have been and all the people he could have helped, was wiped out in less than a second. In less than a second, the effects of his death started to ripple out across the future. But instead of good things growing, there is left only an empty echo of what could have been.
That is an incalculable tragedy.
Update: I've been getting a lot of hits on this post and a few emails. Please feel free to comment on this post, to talk to each other. To share. I only ask that you please be respectful to each other and to Sone.