HANOVER COUNTY, Va. - For Deputy Phat Nguyen, the Fourth of July is the ultimate celebration, according to CBS 6.
It’s Christmas, New Year's and Halloween rolled into one. The 35-year-old adores what the holiday represents.
"As long as he has been here, he's loved the fireworks," his wife Amanda said. "He loves the celebration. He loves everything about the celebration. He lives for the day."
In 2002, Nguyen and his parents escaped Vietnam’s oppressive communist government. Phat didn’t know a word of English when the family started a new life in Baltimore. But he adapted.
“As soon as we come over here, we knew this was home,” Nguyen said. “A lot of tourists go to Vietnam and they say, ‘Oh, Vietnam is not bad.’ But they don’t know about the Vietnam that I know. I’m going to do whatever it takes to fit in.”
For Nguyen, his new life didn’t mean accumulating material wealth.
“Freedom is the most important aspect of the American Dream,” he said.
The immigrant was determined to show appreciation. In 2005, Nguyen joined the United States Army, serving a dangerous combat tour in Iraq.
After the military, Nguyen graduated from college and started working. But he wasn’t satisfied with a 9-to-5 job.
Three years ago, Nguyen joined the Hanover County Sheriff’s Department.
“I believe I am the right person for the job, and I am really happy to be here,” Nguyen said.
Sgt. Steve DiLoreto said his colleague serves a role model for other officers.
"He is always happy. He is always positive. He is very driven,” DiLoreto said. "This is someone who has not been given anything. He came and made his mark. He is doing good in his community. He has given back to his community."
Nguyen said wearing the badge is an honor.
"I took a pay cut to be a police officer. I am really proud to be a police officer and I do it for a reason,” Nguyen said. "I don’t want to be a freeloader in this country."
Serving country and county is Ngyuen’s American dream come true.
"If you've lived here your whole life and never been anywhere else, you don’t understand how lucky you are to be here in America," he said.