Reunification Day in Vietnam – 40 Year Celebration
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the victory of the North Vietnamese army. The holiday is also called Victory Day or Liberty Day, however some Vietnamese refer to it as Black April and consider it a day of mourning.
The 40-year celebration in Ho Chi Minh City was open only to those invited, but I was able to get downtown yesterday to check out the preparations. A large outdoor arena was set up in front of Reunification Palace. All the bleachers were painted baby blue, and large floats replicating tanks, trains, and garish red and yellow flowers were ready for the morning’s parade. More than 100 police offers and army personnel patrolled the area, so sadly I wasn’t able to actually get into the bleacher area which was barricaded from the public. Locals, who usually enjoy the green space between Alexandre de Rhodes and Han Thuyen, sat on the curb against a backdrop of portable chain link barriers.
In the middle of the open-air arena, a large cardboard standup of Ho Chi Minh with bright yellow shards of light behind him emerged from a neon pink flower. Men wheeled a paper mache fortress into place, and an army man on a walkie talkie shot a bored looked at the camera-toting tourists. While I couldn’t get any photos in the arena, here are some of the decorations set up along the parade route.
To learn more about Vietnam 40 years after reunification, see this feature on AlJazeera.