Friday, 30 April 2010

Vietnam remembers the fall of Saigon

Vietnam celebrates the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon - now known as Ho Chi Minh City - which marked the official end of the Vietnam War.

VIETNAM-ANNIVERSARY - Thousands of troops march in a parade commemorating the communist victory over U.S. -backed South Vietnam in Ho Chi Min city.

It was 35 years ago when North Vietnam tanks smashed through the gates of the presidential palace in the city.

A lieutenant and political commissar of that tank unit recalls the moment the war ended.

VU DANG TOAN, FORMER SOLDIER IN TANK 390, SAYING:

"The moment our tank 390 smashed through the gate is coming soon. At 10:45 am thirty-five years ago it smashed the presidential palace and drove straight to the palace. We are here today, very emotional, and thinking of what happened 35 years ago as it was a great victory, it was very quick to liberate Saigon and the country is reunited."

The ceremony was held at the former presidential palace in Ho Chi Minh City, formally known as Saigon.

The Communist Party Chief praised the city's economic achievements.

The city itself generated more than 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product last year and 30 percent of its tax revenue.

Officials also paid tribute to the three million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians who died during the war, which also claimed more than 58,000 American troops.

Ageing veterans were overwhelmed with the celebration.

MADAM VU THI NHAM, 80-YEAR-OLD VETERAN FROM HANOI, SAYING:

"I could not describe my happiness. I was crying as I'm so emotional, so happy but at this moment I think of my comrades who sacrificed their lives for the country. We feel happy but we always want to remember them."

Police kept ordinary Vietnamese away for security reasons as President Nguyen Minh Triet led a delegation of dignitaries from Cuba, Russia, Cambodia and Laos.

Ian Lee Reuters