“Black April” Rememberance Ceremonies/Tưởng Niệm Ngày Quốc Hận, Austin, TX, 2013
(More and better photos, via VACAT’s Facebook, here.)
Commentary, about “The war”: The Vietnam War/Chiến tranh Việt Nam/Kháng chiến chống Mỹ boils down to this: The post-World War 2 struggle by the Vietnamese (and Laos & Cambodians, for that matter) for their independence and self-determination was corrupted by the superpowers for ideological gain and became one of the longest, bloodiest and most tragic of the proxy conflicts of their Cold War (1945 to…well, is it REALLY over?). Yes, there is more complexity than even this, and plenty of continuing debate. But the fact is no side truly won, neither side were saints, and every side lost A LOT.
On a pleasant evening, in a parking lot in front of VACAT’s offices, well over a hundred people commemorated the last days of April, 1975, when Sài Gòn fell to communist forces. Many present this evening were there, and saw The End, and all horrors before, during & after. Many had to leave their country for the fact that post-war reunification would not bring forgiveness and reconciliation because they chose the “wrong side”.
Though here to remember, some dressed in their old uniforms of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces/Quân Đội Việt Nam Cộng Hòa, these people had to start new lives in a strange country that wanted to forget it had anything to do with them 5-15 years before. Many settled in Texas and found the best opportunities they could. Some here are now grandparents of third-generation Americans.
This continuing project will have a wide audience, including in Vietnam. Though seeing an old flag and veterans of a country that (technically) doesn’t exist anymore may stir hard feelings, please consider this. Now, more than ever, Vietnam COULD secure itself as a great and stable power in this next “Asian Century” IN AS SO FAR as both Vietnamese in Vietnam and the diaspora abroad can put these tragic times aside and agree on cooperation, reconciliation and some semblance of freedom & democracy (i.e. if Myanmar can do it, well…)