September 2nd 1945: Vietnamese Proclamation of Independence
On this day in 1945 the Vietnamese Proclamation of Independence was issued. The Proclamation, written by communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, was first announced in public at the Ba Đình flower garden in Hanoi. Vietnam had been a colony of France since the 19th century, but revolutionary forces were able to take hold following the occupation of the country by the Japanese during World War Two. The Proclamation itself began with a direct quote from the US Declaration of Independence and liberally quoted from French revolutionary texts to highlight the hypocrisy of brutal and repressive French imperialism. The Communists’ Proclamation made no reference to Marx or Lenin but despite its praise of the American Founding Fathers and attempts to appeal to them, the Cold War driven United States was determined to destroy this new communist state. The US therefore supported France in their attempt to reassert control in the ensuing Indochina War. However the French were no match for Ho Chi Minh’s well-organised guerilla forces, and suffered humiliating defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The war ended with the Geneva Accords which divided Vietnam along the 17th parallel into a communist North and Western-friendly South. After years of struggle and unrest between the two, and the steadily increasing presence of US advisers, full scale war broke out and by 1965 the US had decidedly entered the conflict on the side of the South. The Americans underestimated the determination of the North Vietnamese and eventually withdrew from the war that had killed millions of people. Shortly after in April 1975, thirty years after the initial proclamation of independence, Saigon fell to the communists and Vietnam was reunited as an independent communist state."Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country—and in fact it is so already. And thus 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"
- excerpt from Vietnamese Proclamation of Independence