VIETNAMESE INDEPENDENCE DAY – 2 SEPTEMBER
The 2nd of September 1945 was a momentous day in Vietnamese history. Commemorated as Independence Day it’s the day Ho Chi Minh declared the nation independent of French Colonial rule and announced the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Five years earlier after 80 years of exploitative French colonial rule, Japan had invaded Vietnam establishing ruthless and oppressive administrations. After Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945 France (with US urging) wanted its former colony back but the hardened resistance fighters, the Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh, had other ideas and declared independence.
The Time for Independence Had Arrived
The right of the Vietnamese people to self-determination was certainly well overdue by the end of World War II. But the French yoke was not finally broken until 1954 after a bitter struggle between Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh and the US-backed French forces.
Peace was short-lived as a civil war, following the partition of Vietnam into North (communist) and South (US-aligned), soon escalated into the American War. Thus, in the end, it wasn’t until 1975 that a single, truly independent nation was formed and finally at peace. But the creation of a Vietnam free from foreign control and an antiquated monarchy all began with a declaration of independence back on 2 September, 1945.
Some will claim that the French colonial period brought many good things to Vietnam but that is a debate for another day. By 1945 the time for independence had well and truly arrived and few in the modern era believe foreign powers had any right to control Vietnam thereafter.
Vietnam – A Proud Nation
September 2 belongs to the Vietnamese people – proud nationalists right across the country – who have their own nation thanks to the incredible struggle and hardship borne by their forbears.
On Independence Day or National Day as it’s also known, the streets are alive with Vietnamese flags proudly billowing in front of virtually every household (including the Hoi An Now office!).
The big cities have street marches and fireworks and civil authorities everywhere raise iconic banners of Uncle Ho speaking into a microphone and the like. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi and sites of historical and cultural importance around the country attract attract big crowds.
Ho Chi Minh’s Speech – 2 September, 1945
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.”
This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.
The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the Citizen also states: “All men are born free and with equal rights and must always remain free and have equal rights.”
Those are undeniable truths.
Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow-citizens. They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice.
In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every democratic liberty.
They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct political regimes in the North, the Center and the South of Vietnam in order to wreck our national unity and prevent our people from being united.
They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood.
They have fettered public opinion; they have practiced obscurantism against our people.
To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium and alcohol.
In the field of economics, they have fleeced us to the backbone, impoverished our people, and devastated our land.
They have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, and our raw materials. They have monopolized the issuing of bank notes and the export trade.
They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people, especially our peasantry, to a state of extreme poverty.
They have hampered the prospering of our national bourgeoisie; they have mercilessly exploited our workers.
In the autumn of 1940, when the Japanese Fascists violated Indochina’s territory to establish new bases in their fight against the Allies, the French imperialists went down on their bended knees and handed over our country to them.
Thus, from that date, our people were subjected to the double yoke of the French and the Japanese. Their sufferings and miseries increased. The result was that from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, from Quang Tri province to the North of Vietnam, more than two million of our fellow-citizens died from starvation…
From the autumn of 1940, our country had in fact ceased to be a French colony and had become a Japanese possession.
After the Japanese had surrendered to the Allies, our whole people rose to regain our national sovereignty and to establish the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
The truth is that we have wrested our independence from the Japanese and not from the French.
The French have fled, the Japanese have capitulated, Emperor Bao Dai has abdicated. Our people have broken the chains which for nearly a century have fettered them and have won independence for the Fatherland. Our people at the same time have overthrown the monarchic regime that has reigned supreme for dozens of centuries. In its place has been established the present Democratic Republic…
The whole Vietnamese people, animated by a common purpose, are determined to fight to the bitter end against any attempt by the French colonialists to reconquer their country…
For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, solemnly declare to the world that Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country—and in fact is so already. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty.