Vietnam Marks 30th Anniversary of Fall of Saigon

Vietnam marks fall of Saigon (CNN)

Thousands of Vietnamese took to the streets of Ho Chi Minh city to celebrate 30 years since the communist victory that ended what is known as the “American War.” On April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese tanks rolled into what was then called Saigon — the capital of U.S.-backed South Vietnam. The American exit three decades ago — when U.S. troops scrambled aboard helicopters from the roof of the Saigon embassy — became one of the most dramatic images of the 20th century.

The country on Saturday celebrated with a parade of soldiers, government workers and performers waving flags on the grand boulevard where communist tanks once rolled. Hundreds of aging veterans, their chests decked with medals, watched from the sidelines, The Associated Press reported. The fall of Saigon marked the end of the 10-year involvement of the United States in southeast Asia. Two million Vietnamese died in the war, while more than 58,000 Americans were killed.

Vietnam baked a four-ton cake for more than 1,000 Liberation Day babies and breaking with the military ceremonies of the past, the nation staged a parade without a real tank in sight. The communist nation’s top leaders, as well as retired General Vo Nguyen Giap, the 94-year-old military chief whose tactics subdued first the French then the Americans, attended the key celebrations in Saigon, Reuters reported.

Concerned that too visible a show of “triumphalism” could harm crucial economic ties with the United States, now Vietnam’s biggest trading partner, Hanoi made sure this year’s celebrations were as much about the future as the past.

American involvement in the war lasted much more than a decade, although the period from 1964-1973 was the apex. Ironically, while we didn’t prevail in that conflict, Vietnam long ago turned away from Communism.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.