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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukraine PM Warns Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid