Saturday, April 30, 2005

LIberation Day

Fisrt of all, apologies for not blogging for so long. I was on holiday for two weeks and then suffering a bout of post-holiday blues!
Today is what they call Liberation Day in Vietnam - the 30 year anniversary of the end of what is known here as the American War. The 30th of April is the day when the Vietnamese tanks entered the Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the Americans surrendered. Celebrations have been going on for over a month, as different areas of Vietnam were liberated at different times, however, the 30th April 1975 was the official end to the war.
I have to say that I have really enjoyed the last week, which has been full of events as part of the build-up to today. At the college where I live and work, there have been performances every night of singing, dancing and plays, and the tv has been full of programmes of the war, most of them unseen before as they have only recently bought from French tv programme makers. However, behind all the jubilation, it is clear to see that for many, the war still holds horrific memories. Despite the celebrations, few people actually talk about the war other than in terms of a factual account. Nearly ever man over the age of about 50 was no doubt a soldier and I would say that most families lost a relative, friend or neighbour during the war. The only sign of this that I see are black and white photos of soldiers hanging above the ancestral alter in people's houses. I spoke with a close friend about this and she simply said that it is too soon for people to talk about it. On TV there are numerous programs about the war, and particularly about the horrrific effects that Agent Orange has had on generations of Vietnamese people. Agent Orange was a defoliant that the Americans used to clear large areas of forest in order to try and locate the North Vietnamese soldiers. Some soldiers who were exposed it it died, and many (both Vietnamese and American) went on to have children with serious birth defects. Some are severely physically or mentally disabled, or born without limbs, others have disfiguring skin disorders. For years, the Vietnamese have been trying to get compensation from the chemicals company which produced Agent Orange, and only recently they lost their court battle.
In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there will be huge celebrations this evening, however, I have chosen to stay in Yen Bai among my Vietnamese friends as I feel it is a unique experience that I have been invited to take part in. Tomorrow I am spending the day with a teacher who works at the college as he has invited me to celebrate the death of his grandfather with his family and I feel honoured that he wishes me to be part of it. I'll blog soon to tell you all about it!


  • At December 17, 2007 at 3:50 PM, Blogger búc said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At December 17, 2007 at 3:51 PM, Blogger búc said…

    Hi, I have visited this site by change while looking for information about Vietnam's Liberation day in English. Long time has passed since you wrote this entry, but I still find it interesting and touched. Thank you!
    Best wishes!

  • At April 30, 2009 at 12:24 AM, Blogger Sumit Satpathy said…

    Chanced upon your blog while googling for Vietnamese Liberation day. It was a very touching account of the war and the events post it. My interest in Vietnam was generated due to my visits to Hanoi on business trips, which unfortunately did not allow me to capture these elements and past history. Good blog and would try and follow it as and when possible.


    Sumit (India)

  • At February 1, 2010 at 10:51 AM, Blogger Kenady said…

    This is the first time I've read your blog, I found it after searching to see what Vietnamese Liberation Day Celebrated. It's very intersting and I plan on following it. Keep up the blogging :D


Post a Comment

<< Home