Tuesday, September 02, 2008

National Day

Happy Việt Nam National Holiday! It's interesting to slowly learn what different countries around the world celebrate in the name of nationalism.* In Vietnam, nationalism is commemorated on a different anniversary than I'd expected. Not that there aren't nationalist "reunification" celebrations in honor of the Vietnam's eventual integration after the fall of Saigon in April, 1975, but the official Socialist Republic of Việt Nam National Day Celebrates a short-lived step along the way: the proclamation of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam on September second, 1945. Odd, huh? Quickly: at the very end of the second World War, Japan overthrew the government of French Indochina. For several months, US and Allied forces worked covertly within Vietnam to harass the Japanese flank while the imperial army was fighting its costly war in the Pacific. When Japan finally surrendered on August 14, 1945, it was agreed by the winners that they would withdraw from Indochina, leaving it intact for its long-time imperial masters. Instead, Japan made it possible for nationalist groups, including the Việt Minh under leader Hồ Chí Minh, to size the public buildings in many major cities, thereby thwarting the returning French. By the twenty-fifth, the colonial president Bảo Ðại was forced to abdicate leadership to Uncle Hồ who, on September second, delivered a rousing speech inaugurating a new sovereign Vietnamese nation that lasted several days. But the Chinese Army arrived to occupy northern Vietnam later in September. Then British troops arrived to occupy the south in November. The Việt Minh, choosing the devils they knew, began negotiating with the French again before the end of the year. It was a strategy that would separate the country but leave a sure Vietnamese foothold in the north, bringing about civil divisions leading to thirty more years of nationalist struggle. [Cavin]

Then, a 1 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

* In the US, we celebrate nationalism on the fourth day of July, our Independence Day. That's the date in which the declaration of our independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain was completed and began accruing signatures (legal independence was enacted by the Second Continental Congress on July second--no fireworks for that). In Vietnam they are celebrating a historical and abortive version of the country, marking their first real gain toward a unified sovereignty that eluded them for three more decades. Compared with the American celebration of nationalism's successful commencement, it's like the opposite.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 9:14:00 PM  

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