About this time, the skies darkened and a clap of thunder could be heard. The air was already hot and humid and a downpour began. We all ran for shelter. After the rain stopped, we were taken to the ornate Government Palace nearby where we met the Deputy Prime Minister, Tran Duc Luong, who was waiting for us. We were then welcomed and formally introduced. Since Ali was tired from a long, hot day and since the Deputy Prime Minister spoke no English our translator, Bill Bell, interpreted my opening remarks on behalf of Ali and our group. We were seated in a finely decorated rectangular room with high ceilings. Ali and the Deputy Prime Minister sat at the head of the room next to each other with a small coffee table between. Two attractive Vietnamese women served us tea. Speaking for Ali, I explained our mission on behalf of America’s POW/MIAs and asked the Deputy Prime Minister for the help of the Vietnamese government on this issue. I explained that we had come to build a bridge of friendship between our two nations. Ali then presented Tran Duc Luong with a copy of a prayer that was made into a song entitled “Bridge of Friendship,” written by Sharon Licht of Holland, Pennsylvania. Deputy Prime Minister Luong, the second highest-ranking Vietnamese official, indicated he would be pleased if Ali would autograph his copy of this song. As Ali autographed it, I read the words out loud. Mr. Thuy translated the lyrics for the Deputy Prime Minister who said he thought they were beautiful and inspirational.

an excerpt from, Saved by the Bell