Our November 15, 1969 chant during the anti-war demonstration in Washington DC was:
“Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Min, the NLF is gonna win.” It rings in my ears every day I’m in Vietnam, especially in Hanoi where he lived. Back then I barely understood what the NLF (National Liberation Front) was. What I knew was the Vietnam War had to end.
In today’s Vietnam, Ho Chi Min is the honored and revered father of the country, the Mahatma Gandhi. It seems for the past 2000 years Vietnam has been continuously either subjugated or at war. For the first 1000 years AD, it was the Chinese who ruled and most recently, the French, until 1954. This colonial occupation was followed by the U.S. support of the South against the North in an anti-communist war fought in the 60’s and 70’s in part, to stem the “red tide.” The Communists did win and Vietnam was united under the Hammer and Sickle. The socialist experiment to make everyone equal ended after a long series of failures. In 1986 a free market system was adopted followed by a messy, often confusing period of change. The pre ’86 government controlled virtually everyone and everything, right down to a coupon system that rationed every breakfast, lunch and dinner eaten in Vietnam through a coupon system for getting food. By 1989, the change was substantially complete and the economy has been growing at an amazing rate ever since.