Last week was ‘Liberation Day’ here. Marking 37 years since Victory Day or the Fall of Saigon as it’s known in the west and to the Southern Vietnamese people who escaped. Propaganda posters went up around the city and the hammer and sickle communist insignia flags which hang from many buildings doubled in number. The posters show the famous photograph of the tank breaking through the Presidential Palace (which is now known as Liberation Palace). Here it is for your viewing pleasure:
The NVA tank breaking through the gates
In front of the palace.
The palace now, in its form as ‘Liberation Palace’. Actually taken by me before I lost my camera! I drive past this every day on my way to work.
The tank itself, again taken by me.
I couldn’t get a photo of the actual posters as I still don’t have a camera, but here is one I found on google. It’s exactly the same except this one is from two years ago, so the number has changed from ’35 nam’ to ’37 nam’. Nam means years.
There are also lots of posters showing happy cartoon children waving balloons and celebrating 37 years of unification, as well as various banners with statements about the great and welcomed reunification etcetera.
Obviously there is no mention of the thousands of people that fled the country on helicopters, packed planes and horrific boat journeys because they didn’t want to be communist, or unified, or because they feared for their lives due to their connections with the ARVN and American supported southern government. Nor is there mention of the thousands of people who didn’t escape and were sent to ‘reeducation camps’ or had their money and homes taken.
Here is probably the most famous photo of the Fall of Saigon from the Western point of view, taken by Hubert Van Es:
The funny thing is, the photo shows CIA staff and local Vietnamese workers escaping on a helicopter as NVA forces advanced towards the city, however, this photo is displayed in the Liberation palace with the caption “The US American military fleeing the great Liberation Army”. History is written by the victors after all! More information on this particular photo can be found here. It’s really interesting, definitely worth a quick read.
I would’ve liked to be in the city on the actual date of the celebrations, however given that the national holiday meant I had no work for four days, I also fled Saigon, however I bucked the trend and departed north for Nha Trang, a coastal town with stunning beaches and mountains. Apparently there was a small parade but they save the big celebrations for big dates like 35 years or 40 years.
Follow this link for some interesting videos taken at the time and some interviews with people who were there. The first video is especially worth a watch I think, it’s genuine news footage shot at the time.
I’m not siding with either those that welcomed the troops or those that fled, I just get angry at the very biased portrayal of the whole affair here. But it would be foolish to expect anything different!