Tuesday, January 26, 2010
One of our first stops in Ho Chi Minh was the Reunification Palace, the center of the reporting universe on April 30, 1975, when the North Vietnamese military drove a tank down the central boulevard of the city and crashed through the wrought-iron gates of the Presidential Palace, after which a soldier ran up the steps and into the palace and unfurled the flag of the Viet Cong from the fourth floor balcony, essentially ending the Vietnamese War (or American War as they call it in Vietnam). I watched it all on television and after years of watching death taken away on stretchers or laid out in the long grass beside flapping helicopters hovering like vultures, the war was finally over.
My father had a passion for news and he passed that on to me, which is why we watched the fall of Saigon together. His reaction (jumping up and down and swearing), and the event itself made such an impact on me that forever after I wanted to visit Vietnam. Sometimes I watched the news with my father just to be with him and share a giggle and a tickle; but my best memories are of him rousing me early on Saturday mornings so we could watch together what he swore was his favorite television show - Mighty Mouse.
This is the tank that crashed through the gates (pictured above) at the Reunification Palace, although the original tank that actually DID plow through the gates is in Hanoi, which you can see in my pictures on that blog.
I enjoyed strolling through the long halls of the old Presidential Palace with its hundreds of windows. Everything is just as it was the day they all ran off by the seat of their pants to catch the last helicopter out, and it's much larger inside than it appears from the outside. The wind whistled through the halls from front to back and provided a natural air-conditioning, but it was over one hundred degrees the day I visited. Beautiful gardens surrounded the building.
Inside the Reunification Palace.
Radio controls; overlooking the front gates; landing pad on the roof; elephant feet; fifties furniture
Posted by Nancy O.