Though OVs in France did not directly witness the events, they were all told of glorious August Revolution and the proclamation of independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam).
Nguyen Van Bon, former Vice Chairman of the Overseas Vietnamese Association in France (OVAF) recounted that he was in France in 1954 at 16, nine years after the historical events, thus he was merely told of Vietnam’s independence by other OVs who had been forced to leave the motherland. A few days after Uncle Ho’s Independence Declaration announcement, Vietnamese workers and soldiers in France requested to hang national flags at their campuses. Such an image was imprinted on the patriotic movements of OV’s in France. Since then, activities celebrating the August Revolution and National Day have always been significant and referred to as the ‘Independence Festival’.
For Bon and many other patriotic OVs in France, celebrations of the nation’s important events after the 1954 Geneva Agreement were not easy. They had to take place secretly, but were always filled with emotion. Bon emotionally recalled that he never forgot the image of the red flag with a yellow star being raised at the first celebration whilst he repeated all of the words in Ho Chi Minh’s Independence Declaration, which he had memorised by heart, “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness … Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country and in fact is so already. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilise all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty."
For him, the 1975 Independence Festival is the most special event of all as the south was liberated and the nation was unified, which he and so many other patriotic OVs had longed for, it was indeed a historical moment they would never forget.
This year, the 70-year-old OV was invited to return to the motherland to attend the 70th anniversary. He was pleased with the unceasing development and international integration of the country while hoping to make further contributions to protecting national sovereignty in the East Sea.
Leaving Sai Gon (now Ho Chi Minh City) to study in France in 1964, Nguyen Thanh Tong, former Vice Chairman of the OVAF, met with young Vietnamese people at that time to organise activities to call upon support from French and international friends for Vietnam’s fight for southern liberation. Like many other OVs leaving the divided country for France, Tong looked forward to preparing for two festivals each year – the New Year Festival for get-togethers at the new lunar year and the Independence Festival celebrating National Day.
Tong emotionally recounted that for him, the Independence Festival is the most moving event because after three decades of separation and resistance, the nation finally achieved freedom and the rights that President Ho Chi Minh had declared to the whole world at Ba Dinh Square on September 2, 1945.
“All of us feel extremely happy and proud to be Vietnamese. Without being reminded, we all deeply thank Uncle Ho, who led the nation to independence, as well as the heroes and fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for liberation and national unification”, Tong said.
Both Bon and Tong, among other OVs in France, want younger generations to promote patriotism, revolutionary heroism, great unity spirit, national pride and self-reliance which have been built up by preceding generations. Young OVs in France and other countries should appreciate their Vietnamese origins. Living abroad, they understand the world’s respect for independence and Vietnam’s fights for national liberation against colonialism and imperialism. They should remember the merits of people fallen for the present day and their origin in order to join hands to make contributions to the motherland and be ready to dedicate themselves to the cause if needed.