Vietnamese National Day – A day to be thankful

Tuesday, 2015-09-01 09:10:53
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NDO- Chris Dunn, an Australian, has lived and worked in Vietnam for several years. Ahead of the 70th anniversary of Vietnamese Independence Day he shares his observations and thoughts on the preparations and significance of the national holiday.

Over the last week there has been a noticeable excitement present in the everyday atmosphere of Hanoi. On every road, every street and even every alley right around Hanoi, the striking golden star against the red background of the Vietnamese flag is seen proudly perched from every house.

At every lake and main street around the city, there are lit up signs and decorative flower beds reminding us that this September 2 is a day of significance – the 70th anniversary of Vietnam’s independence and national day.

I have always noticed the strong patriotism and love displayed by the Vietnamese people for their country. However, over the last week I couldn’t help but notice this shared sentiment of national pride was remarkably stronger than usual.

You can feel the entire country’s anticipation for this historical day of the Vietnamese nation and people - 70 years since the August Revolution and 70 years since President Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam’s independence and the formation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in front of 500,000 people at Ba Dinh Square.

Over the last 70 years, Vietnam has faced innumerable challenges form foreign aggressors and made countless sacrifices in the fight for independence, however, 70 years on Vietnam is still an independent nation thanks to the combined effort of the Vietnamese people, the State, the Party and of course the nation’s beloved Uncle Ho.

Living in Hanoi over many years, I have never experienced such excitement for an event such as this year’s National Day. Last Saturday evening on the way to meet some friends, I found it virtually impossible to go anywhere due to some 40 streets around the city being closed, when asking a policeman present at the roadblocks I was reminded that it was due to the military parade rehearsal. Initially the roadblocks frustrated me - why did they have to block so many streets? I asked myself.

Eventually I arrived at the café where my friends were sitting, somewhat tired from dealing with the heavy traffic and extended route I was forced to take, when asking my Vietnamese friends the same question I had asked myself earlier, expecting them to share my annoyance, their reply startled me. ‘This year is not just another ordinary anniversary, this year marks 70 years since Vietnam achieved independence, if that day never came seventy years ago, would we still be sitting here drinking coffee today?’

Affected and moved by what my friend had said, I concurred, one night of slight inconvenience was nothing in comparison to what previous generations of Vietnamese people had given up for their country. Images of soldiers marching in the pouring rain with smiles still plastered on their faces whilst rehearsing for the National Day parade this upcoming Wednesday really drove the point home.

The 70th anniversary does not come every day, therefore this is an occasion for the Vietnamese people to show their pride, patriotism and love for their country, and in particular to show their appreciation for what their predecessors did for the country, for all of the efforts and sacrifices made to construct the Vietnam today as we know it. September 2, 2015 is a historical milestone for Vietnam - from the most humble beginnings the nation has transformed itself from a country ruled by foreign invaders to a striving, developing and prosperous nation and people.

As one travels through the streets of Hanoi on these days in late August, you cannot help but notice the Vietnamese flags perched from each and every house. As I only recently learnt, the red colour of the flag symbolises the bloodshed of the Vietnamese people for their independence and the yellow symbolises the colour of Vietnamese people’s skin.

The Vietnamese flag is a constant reminder to succeeding generations of Vietnamese as to what their predecessors had to sacrifice and endure to secure an independent Vietnam - this is the reason why every house displays the national flag with such pride.

So, on September 2 this year, if you, like I did, find the road blockages and heavy traffic a frustration, think for a few minutes about the sacrifices made by the previous generations of Vietnamese for their freedom and independence. And suddenly, slow traffic won’t seem such a big deal!

Billboards on Kim Ma Street, Hanoi commemorating the 70th National Day.

Chris Dunn