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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid