Friday, April 30, 2010

Vietnam Celebrates 35th Anniversary of War's End

Communist Vietnam marked the 35th anniversary of the end of its war Friday with a dramatic re-enactment of the day North Vietnamese tanks smashed through the gates of the former Presidential Palace and ousted the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government.

The celebration took place as signs of the emerging market economy are everywhere in the city once known as Saigon and communist banners now compete with corporate logos.

A crowd of 50,000, many waving red and gold communist flags, lined the parade route, which was adorned with a massive poster of Ho Chi Minh, the father of Vietnam's revolution.

The proceedings brought back vivid memories for Do Thi Thanh Thuy, 49, who watched the tanks roll by her home on April 30, 1975, when she was a junior high student. She and her neighbors on the outskirts of the former Saigon ran into the streets to cheer.

''When I saw those tanks, I felt so happy,'' said Thuy, who carried a red and gold flag adorned with communism's hammer and a sickle symbol. ''The South had been liberated, the country was united, and the war was over.''

The fall of Saigon marked the official end of the Vietnam War and the decade-long U.S. campaign against communism in Southeast Asia. The conflict claimed some 58,000 American lives and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese.

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