News / Asia

    Vietnam Mourns Beloved General

    Former Vietnam Communist General Secretary Le Kha Phieu, center, stands between wreaths before paying respects to the late Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap at the National Funeral House in Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 12, 2013.
    Former Vietnam Communist General Secretary Le Kha Phieu, center, stands between wreaths before paying respects to the late Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap at the National Funeral House in Hanoi, Vietnam, Oct. 12, 2013.
    Marianne Brown
    Streets are blocked off in central Hanoi and unrelated public events canceled this weekend as Vietnam mourns the death of one of its most celebrated war heroes, General Vo Nguyen Giap, who died on October 4 at the age of 102.

    On Saturday, the country's most powerful politicians and military leaders led processions of mourners to honor a man considered one of modern Vietnam’s founding fathers.  Rows of soldiers in white uniforms stood at attention outside the the National Funeral Hall in central Hanoi, where the general’s body lies in state.

    Over the course of the day, 175 delegations are expected to visit.

    Mourners gather to honor Vietnam's late General Giap in Hanoi, Oct.12, 2013Mourners gather to honor Vietnam's late General Giap in Hanoi, Oct.12, 2013
    x
    Mourners gather to honor Vietnam's late General Giap in Hanoi, Oct.12, 2013
    Mourners gather to honor Vietnam's late General Giap in Hanoi, Oct.12, 2013
    Earlier this week, tens of thousands of mourners stood in line for hours outside the general’s home, many carrying yellow daisies to pay their respects to the man dubbed Vietnam’s “red Napoleon” for his role in masterminding the battle of Dien Bien Phu, which ended French colonial rule in 1954.

    Through tears, one elderly woman, who gave her name only as Thu, said Giap’s role in Vietnamese history was second only to President Ho Chi Minh.

    Thu, volunteer during the war, said Giap was the greatest commander, very good at leading the country against the French and the Americans. She said thanks to him, Vietnam has peace today.

    Another mourner, 84-year-old Nguyen Xuan Tu from Nghe An, says he spent 34 years in the army fighting for the North Vietnamese. When he heard about the general’s death he said he was so moved he could not cry.

    As well as the battle of Dien Bien Phu, Giap is also credited as one of the tacticians behind the 1968 Tet Offensive and other major military campaigns against the United States.

    However, some historians question how crucial his role in war against the Americans really was.

    Lien-Hang Nguyen, associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky and author of the book "Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam," says it is inaccurate to say Giap led the war effort against the United States because he was sidelined politically by leaders in the Communist Party, Le Duan and Le Duc Tho, who felt threatened by his popularity.

    "There was no way they could do away with him, but what they could do behind closed doors was marginalize him in the top party leadership, and silence him when he opposed them" Hang said.

    A woman holds a portrait of General Giap outside the National Funeral House in Hanoi, Oct. 12, 2013.A woman holds a portrait of General Giap outside the National Funeral House in Hanoi, Oct. 12, 2013.
    x
    A woman holds a portrait of General Giap outside the National Funeral House in Hanoi, Oct. 12, 2013.
    A woman holds a portrait of General Giap outside the National Funeral House in Hanoi, Oct. 12, 2013.
    After Dien Bien Phu, where thousands more Vietnamese troops died compared to their French adversaries, Giap became known as a tactician willing to sacrifice large numbers of soldiers in return for victory.  However, Hang said later in the war he did not want to spend as many lives and it was other leaders who were blind to the casualties.

    In the early 1980s the general was removed from his position in the Ministry of Defense and the politburo, and effectively pushed out of political office by the 1990s.

    Despite outliving his rivals, Giap never spoke out against the party.

    Some observers have questioned whether the general did make a political statement in the end by choosing to be buried in his hometown in Quang Binh province, south of Hanoi. Many expected him to be buried alongside his war-time associates at Mai Dich military cemetery in Hanoi.

    The National Funeral Hall will remain open to mourners until Saturday evening. On Sunday, a grand procession will escort the general's body to his hometown for burial.

    You May Like

    Ugandan Opposition Candidate: Only Intimidation, Vote Buying Can Prevent Victory

    Kizza Besigye says he has been drawing large crowds and claims he has widespred support ahead of Feb. 18 vote

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    Sanctions Just Got Real for Over 54,000 North Koreans

    Shuttering of Kaesong complex ends virtually any hope of peaceful settlement to long-standing tensions on Korean peninsula in near future

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Dean Davis from: Portland, Maine
    October 13, 2013 9:52 AM
    What I don't understand is why didn't we just recognise the Communist government 30 yrs earlier .

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.