FALL OF SAIGON: SOUTH VIETNAM SURRENDERS

Parade marchers representing workers and farmers wait in formation for the Reunification Day parade lớn begin, Thursday in Ho đưa ra Minh City. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly for classifimoveis.com)This article is more than 6 years old.All week, we’ve been watching preparations for this day — the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Vietnam’s Reunification Day.

Bạn đang xem: Fall of saigon: south vietnam surrenders

Here in Ho đưa ra Minh thành phố Thursday, dozens of military marching units stepped off down the street in unison. Civilians dressed in colorful costumes followed — all to lớn tight security & sparse crowds.

Reunification Day marks the day the last American troops left Vietnam, & the North và the South were joined again. But what does April 30 mean lớn the Vietnamese? Well, it very much depends on whom you ask.

Take 75-year-old Nguyen Huu Thai. We met the longtime architect and urban planner this week in his family-owned boutique hotel here.

*
Nguyen Huu bầu was a former operative for the Viet Cong, served in the South Vietnamese military, and was an anti-war activist. He thinks of April 30, 1975, as "a day of peace, independence and reunification for Vietnam." (Quinn Ryan Mattingly for classifimoveis.com)

"You know my impression of the first night of April 30th? It was a wonder for me," he said. "I looked at the sky — no more military planes, not even Vietnamese planes. On the street, no more military cars. No more flares in the sky. It was so peaceful và dark. I couldn’t believe it myself, because in all my youth there was no time of peace. & we longed for peace.”

His story is complicated. As a young man he was an officer in the South Vietnamese Army, but he was also an anti-war activist who was jailed four times. And he was a spy for the Viet Cong.

“Working in the day as a South Vietnamese officer, I was an instructor in political science,” he said. “All my other time I devoted to lớn being something lượt thích a spy. That was my mission as an urban National Liberation Front fighter. I provided information, even weapons.”

While Nguyen Huu bầu celebrated on April 30, at the very same time, Van Truong Le and his family were fleeing the country.

Van Truong Le was 8 years old when his family fled Vietnam in a tugboat. Today he’s a lawyer in Boston và the interim director of VietAid, an organization serving the Vietnamese community in Greater Boston. He calls April 30 "Black April.” (Jesse Costa/classifimoveis.com)

“There were a lot of gunfire, rockets và explosions. There were dead bodies on the streets. There were abandoned buildings and homes," he said in a recent interview. "As we were driving through the city, all nine of us packed into my father’s station wagon, we were seeing it. It was almost like a movie to lớn me. It was kind of unreal as a child seeing all of this."

Van Truong Le was just 8 years old. His family was trying lớn escape because his father, a wealthy sugar and lumber merchant, supported the South Vietnamese government & did business with the Americans.

Eventually, the family, led by the father, made it khổng lồ the coast.

“He was able to rent a tugboat and we probably had maybe 100 people load up on this small tugboat, which is bizarre," Van Truong Le recalled. "But it became very quickly overloaded with passengers, with deserted soldiers throwing away their guns, with folks who wanted khổng lồ join with us & flee the country to just the mở cửa ocean.”

After eight or nine days at sea — sometimes adrift, sometimes siphoning fuel off abandoned boats — they were picked up by a ship and taken lớn the Philippines. They spent time in a refugee camp, và later resettled in Pennsylvania.

Xem thêm:

For the Truong family, those early years in the U.S. Were difficult. Wealthy in Vietnam, but suddenly poor in America, Truong’s father took a job as a museum janitor in Pittsburgh while looking for other work. The family then moved khổng lồ Queens, New York, then New Orleans, Baton Rouge & Houston. Over the years, members of the family settled in different cities.

And at 11 years old in 1978, Van Truong Le arrived in Boston lớn live with his older brother & sister, & went back to school.

“We were told Massachusetts had the best schools in the country, so we went in that direction & during those times it was a welcoming state for refugees, for Vietnamese people, và we had some friends who were already in Boston," he said.

Van Truong Le was recruited lớn a private high school. Harvard University followed, as did Northeastern University School of Law. Today he’s a lawyer in Boston & the interim director of VietAid, an organization serving the Vietnamese community in Greater Boston.

Six of his brothers and sisters still live in Boston. Two other siblings are in California, và one is in Washington, D.C. He describes them all as successful & lucky.


*
Nguyen Huu Thai, center, his daughter Nguyen Thien Nga, left, và wife Tran Tuyet Hoa pose at their family khách sạn in Ho bỏ ra Minh City. (Quinn Ryan Mattingly for classifimoveis.com)

Back here in Vietnam, Nguyen Huu Thai’s family is also full of success stories. They’ve made a good life here. But he understands why so many fled the war-torn country.

“Certainly you have a segment of Vietnamese people who were very anti-communist," he said. "They were afraid of communist. At that time, đen propaganda from the American and South Vietnamese governments said, ‘If communists come, you will have slaughter. At least 1 million will die if communists enter Saigon.’ Many people believed that.”

Nguyen Huu thai calls the communist takeover a peaceful transition. While it’s not known how many people died in the fall of Saigon, thousands of South Vietnamese were placed in reeducation camps.

April 30 remains an important & emotional day for many Vietnamese here & abroad. For Van Truong Le in Boston, this is a painful day, a time he và others who fled Vietnam điện thoại tư vấn “Black April.”

“Because that was when folks from South Vietnam lost our country to lớn the North Communist regime," he said. "It was the day we lost our country. So we refer khổng lồ it as đen April 1975. In fact for the last 40 years on April 30, the Vietnamese who have resettled here for the most part commemorate và observe that day as a day lớn commemorate the loss of Vietnam."

But here"s what Nguyen Huu Thai, in Ho chi Minh City, said lớn that: “It is the propaganda by anti-communist people abroad — đen April.”

He added: “I know they even say the day, April 30th, is a day of hate. I could gọi the day, April 30th, a day of peace, independence & reunification of Vietnam.”

They’ve never met, Nguyen Huu Thai and Van Truong Le. But even beyond their common bond to Vietnam, they have something more in common: no regrets for the difficulties & hardships in their lives.

“I think if I were born again, regained my youth ... I’d bởi vì it the same," Nguyen Huu bầu said. "I’d vị the same thing.”

And in Boston, Van Truong Le agrees.

“I wouldn’t change a single thing," he said. "I think God’s plan for you is much more complicated than you can understand. Would I have rather been back in Vietnam where my father was a multimillionaire & I had everything given khổng lồ me? Maybe. But through the difficult moments, I learned more. Through not having things given to lớn me, I worked harder.”