Vietnam Times: Vietnam marks 40 years since the end of Vietnam War on Thursday as thousands of Vietnamese, including war veterans in uniform, lined up to watch soldiers and traditional performers parade through the streets of what is now Ho Chi Minh City.
In front of Independence Palace – whose gates northern tanks clattered through in one of the iconic moments of the 1975 victory – Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung struck out at the US attempt to contain the spread of communism in Southeast Asia through war in Vietnam.
“They committed countless barbarous crimes, caused immeasurable losses and pain to our people and country,” he said in an address.
Nguyen Van Tap, 64, who drove Tank 390 through the iron bars and reunited with members of his tank company on Wednesday said, “The tank crashing the gates … was a symbol of victory for the Vietnamese nation and the Vietnamese People’s Army, marking the end of the 30 years of national resistance against the French and then the Americans. For the Vietnamese, April 30 is a day of festivities and national reunification.”
The war killed millions of Vietnamese – both civilians and combatants from the divided North and South – and left hundreds of thousands more wounded.
The physical effects of conflict still linger, including through deformities that Vietnam says are caused by the dioxin Agent Orange, sprayed by the US airforce.
Some 58,000 US servicemen also died in a war that remains seared into the consciousness of the American public, most often as a tragic waste of young lives and a symbol of the over-extension of power.
It was the first Cold War conflict to be extensively covered by the Western press – and the first to be lost by a modern superpower that thought itself unbeatable.
An embassy spokesman said the US envoy will attend a low-key ceremony at the consulate in Ho Chi Minh City later on Thursday.
Ties between the wartime enemies have warmed in recent years, with Washington drawing closer to Hanoi in the face of growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.