By MAI HOANG
ST. PAUL, Minn. (April 30, 2010) – The Vietnam Center hosted a Memorial Service event to mark the 36th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. More than 150 people were present to participate in the memorial event.
The Fall of Saigon anniversary is a traditional event held annually in ex-patriot Vietnamese communities around the United States, France, Australia and wherever former citizens of the Republic of Vietnam left to flee the Communist takeover of the Vietnam.
For this particular 2011 event held in Minnesota, participants were able to take part in workshops, lectures, entertainment and singing the old songs together.
The speakers list included Minnesota District 42 State Senator David Haan, who also serves as the Assistant Majority Leader in the State Senate. Sen. Haan authored the bill to recognize the Republic of Vietnam flag in Minnesota.
Haan recognized the Vietnamese community for Minnesota for its perseverance in suffering during and after the war as refugees. He said that it could not have been easy to reestablish a new community here in Minnesota, and commended the strength and vitality of a flourishing community that continues to credit its growth to the spirit of freedom.
Mr. Ngu Quang Duong, event coordinator, also spoke on the day as the “National Day of Resentment” in which former members of the Allied Forces and Vietnamese friends of the homeland come together to remember the loss and suffering that resulted in the dislocation of a nation.
Mr. Ngu said the event serves to commemorate heroes and heroines who sacrificed everything for the democracy and freedoms that Vietnamese Americans now enjoy in their new home. He said that succeeding generations would do well to observe this day as a way to recall the reasons that the Vietnamese came to America, but also as a reminder of where they came from and that their ancestors will always be from Vietnam.
Ngu recalled that following the Fall of Vietnam, there were approximately 222,809 civilians, government and military of South Vietnam that would lose their homes and property and placed in “Re-education Camps” where as many as 40,000 would perish from cruelty, slavery and famine.
He added that the persecution then spread to the Vietnamese arts and academic communities and finally to the farmers that had to surrender their lands to serve in communes. He said the event also serves to acknowledge those still suffering in Vietnam – including some three-million people who chose the danger of escaping by boat to the persecution of the government. As many as 400,000 would perish from storms and piracy on the high seas.
The program concluded with a banquet of special occasion foods and fellowship about the accomplishments and the future of the Vietnamese in Minnesota.