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Vietnam Bids Farewell to Legendary War Hero

General Vo Nguyen Giap. Photo from 'I Love Vietnam' website.

General Vo Nguyen Giap. Photo from ‘I Love Vietnam’ website.

Vietnam is mourning the death of General Vo Nguyen Giap, the legendary military tactician and communist leader who led Vietnam’s army in defeating the military forces of France and the United States in the 20th century. Giap was 103 years old when he died last October 4.

He is the first four-star general and Commander-in-Chief of Vietnam. He is also called the ‘Eldest Brother’ of Vietnam People’s Army. He is generally recognized in the whole world as one of the greatest military leaders of all time.

Former party Secretary General Le Kha Phieu described Giap as Vietnam’s ‘unfailing source of light’:

The General is forever an unfailing source of light for the Vietnamese people, army and communists.

Giap is the second most revered leader in Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh. General Phung Quang Thanh, in an article first published by Nhan Dan Online, was reminded of Giap’s advice to maintain the integrity of ‘Uncle Ho’s soldiers’:

The General advised veterans to preserve and promote the quality of ‘Uncle Ho’s soldiers’, strengthen solidarity, and be exemplary by participating in local socio-economic development activities. He reminded the local Party committees and governments to listen to and respect people, and urged officials and Party members to take the lead so that people would place trust that the Party and the government would succeed in the nation’s new revolutionary cause.

After the end of Vietnam War in 1975, Giap served in the government but was reportedly sidelined after a few years. Đoan Trang surmised Giap’s reason as to why he didn’t press for a higher position in the government:

…it can be said that Vo Nguyen Giap must have done what a communist is expected to do: to sacrifice personal interests for general interests. What would have happened, they argued, if General Vo Nguyen Giap, with his dominance over the armed forces, had confronted his comrades in the ruling Communist Party to earn himself a higher position with greater privileges?

Jonathan London wrote about the impact of Giap’s death on the ruling party. He also described how the Vietnamese are paying their last respects to Giap:

In Hanoi, where thousands waited in the street to pay their last respects, the mood was at somber, electric, and unscripted. Parents brought their children, even as today’s parents and children learned about the General mostly in schoolbooks. Those with more years showed up in large numbers accompanied by their friends in some instances and their own children and grandchildren in others.

Saigon Shakers is too young to remember Giap but noted how many people are grieving the passing of the military leader:

I don’t know much about him. Only that he’s a war hero in every war in the last century, for just about every Vietnamese person. And that I haven’t seen my parents this sad over something since I told them that I’d dropped out of grad school.

Here are some reactions on Twitter:

Meanwhile, Calvin Godfrey doesn’t approve of the obituary written by American Senator John McCain:

…asking McCain to write the last words on one of the greatest military tacticians in history is sort of like asking the kid who repeated the ninth grade twice to give your school’s valedictorian address.

Interestingly, many Vietnamese learned about Giap's death from Facebook and other Internet websites because state media have to wait for the official announcement of the Communist Party.

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