By Hoang Huong, Le Phuong
HO CHI MINH CITY, April 30 (Xinhua) -- A grand meeting was held here on Thursday morning to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the liberation of South Vietnam and National Reunification, one of the country's most important events of the year.
The meeting was attended by Vietnamese party and state leaders, including General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong, President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung, President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Nguyen Thien Nhan, and HCM City Party Secretary Le Thanh Hai.
Former Vietnamese party and state leaders and local high- ranking officials were also present at the meeting, besides foreign guests including high-ranking officials from Laos, Cambodia and Cuba, delegations of foreign diplomatic corps, representatives of overseas Vietnamese community, local and foreign press reporters, and local residents.
Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that the victory on April 30, 1975, marked a new charter in Vietnam's glorious history of national construction and defense. "With that victory, we accomplished a historic mission of liberating the South and reunifying the country, bringing Vietnam into a new era, the era of independence and reunification, and building the socialist Vietnam into a strong nation with wealthy people and a democratic, just and civilized society," said the prime minister.
The government leader also said that all Vietnamese people will always keep in their heart and mind the gratitude to former outstanding leaders of the party and country, heroic martyrs, comrades and compatriots who sacrificed and dedicated their whole lives to the struggle for national independence, freedom and reunification.
The focal point of this year's grand celebration was the large- scale parade and marches held here with participation of nearly 6, 000 people. They were divided into 38 blocks representing the armed forces, police, guerrillas and local guards, representatives of different organizations composed of veterans, young volunteers, workers, farmers, youths, women and social organizations, and all those who have contributed greatly to the victory of the anti-U.S. resistance war for the liberation of South Vietnam and the long struggle for national reunification.
Since 1975, April 30 has been a day of annual commemoration across Vietnam as the Liberation Day and National Reunification. This year's celebration is of special significance to all Vietnamese as it was held concurrently with the country's fast development in all areas and its deep integration into the global economy over the past 40 years. "We feel so happy each time when the country commemorates the Liberation Day and National Reunification on April 30. It is not because we are victors, but because it marks a time when there is no more war in our country and peace has returned to our people," 80-year-old veteran Nguyen Tran told Xinhua.
Tran said he joined the resistance war against the French colonialists and he witnessed its ending with the triumphant Dien Bien Phu Victory in May 1954. He continued to participate in the anti-US resistance war and knew very well the aftermath of this horrible war and the value of peace as well. "When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, only five out of my 10 classmates survived and returned home. It was really a huge loss," said the veteran, adding that young Vietnamese were the main force to participate in the war, and each of their deaths was a great loss to the country.
Ngo Van Tien, in an army uniform as private first class, a native from southern Tay Ninh province, who was on duty among guards for the parade and marches, said that he is so happy to be here to attend the 40th celebration of the Liberation-National Reunification Day. "Being a soldier I am so proud to witness this significant event with my own eyes, and I feel more responsible for any task assigned to me," said the young soldier.
Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Le Thanh Thuy, who just graduated from a college in HCM City, told Xinhua that she felt lucky to be born in the post-war period, but she is well aware of the sacrifice that the older generations of her countrymen had made for today's national reunification. "The annual celebration on April 30 reminds us, the young generation of the country, of the nation's historical milestones and the forefathers' sacrifice for our current life in peace. We should strive to continue their tradition in defending and building the country," Thuy said, adding that every year, on the Liberation Day her family used to get together and watch documentary films of the event with deep emotion and pride.
Various events are held simultaneously nationwide, and in HCM City in particular, to commemorate the Liberation-National Reunification Day, fireworks displays will be held on Thursday night, as well as artistic and musical performances, seminars and sports events.
The 27th edition of the HCM City Television Cup Cycling Tournament which kicked off on April 11 in Hanoi, is going to conclude here at noontime on Thursday.
The Geneva Conference in 1954 after the end of the Indochina War produced a set of documents known as the Geneva Accords. These agreements temporarily separated Vietnam into two zones, a northern zone to be governed by the Viet Minh, and a southern zone to be governed by the State of Vietnam, then headed by former emperor Bao Dai, until the country held the general election in 1956.
However, the election did not happen as scheduled. In the north, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, under the leadership of President Ho Chi Minh and Viet Minh since the August Revolution in 1945, was officially recognized by the former socialist countries as an independent state, with the capital located in Hanoi. In the south, the Republic of Vietnam led by emperor Bao Dai and backed by the French and Americans, was recognized by some western countries, with the capital in Saigon.
Vietnam was reunified after the liberation of Saigon on April 30,1975, ending the Vietnam War. Since then, April 30 has been called the "Liberation-National Reunification Day" in the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam and is among the biggest national holidays. Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the late president and revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh.