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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid