After 68 years, former communist soldiers and fighters still get emotional as they recall memories of the day of the liberation of the capital.
|The depiction of the Vietnamese People's Army marching into Hanoi on October 10, 1954. Photo: Lai Tan
Brigadier General Huynh Dac Huong, 103, enlisted in the Vietnamese People's Army at age 17 to fight for freedom and independence.
"Everyone wanted to return to their families," he said.
Although he was not in the city on the day of liberation, Huong said Hanoi was all he thought about and that he was "willing to die for the city."
"With my people, I made flowers and mini-flags and gathered with others around Hoan Kiem Lake to welcome the liberation army," said Duong Tu Minh, a former political prisoner who was jailed at Hoa Lo Prison.
"It was a wild and jubilant moment when we saw the soldiers marching into the city," he said.
Colonel Duong Niet, 90, said he was among the soldiers who took control of the capital city from the French.
His squadron arrived on the city's north side on October 8, 1954, and the French led them into the city across the Duong Bridge, he recalled.
|Former soldiers and communist activists attend the exhibition at Hoa Lo Prison Relic. Photo: Lai Tan
“We felt the warmest greetings of people, and we saw in their eyes the desire for peace, freedom and unbound happiness,” he said.
The squadron was split into 35 units to take control of important positions in the city, such as the police headquarters, the courthouse, the power plant, the water plant, the train station, the prison, and the hospital, he said.
Their mission was to protect people and assets and prevent any damage to the infrastructure before the Vietnamese Government entirely administered the city.
"The city remained quiet with a few remaining French soldiers. But when they left the city completely, it came alive, and everyone prepared all kinds of things for the celebration," he said.
"After 68 years, I still cry when I look at photos showing those days."
At 95, memories of those days are crystal clear in the mind of Nguyen Tien Ha, a former teacher and soldier.
On October 10, 1954, he was honored to be among the soldiers marching into the city. With his command of French, he was assigned to take care of the French prisoners.
"For the people of Hanoi, the day of October 10, 1954, marked the moment when they can freely show their patriotism, wave the national flag and speak at will just about anything without fear," he said.
"The liberation day also united the army with the people and was the day of family reunion, as many people had been separated from their loved ones during nine years of resistance war," Ha said.
These soldiers and activists were among several guests that attended the “Song of Triumph” exhibition held at the Hoa Lo Prison Relic on October 10.
|Do Thi Hai cries when seeing the items of her late husband displayed at the exhibition. Photo: Lai Tan
The exhibition showed the relentless efforts of the people and soldiers of Hanoi to fight for the freedom and independence of the country, as well as the historical moment of the city's liberation.
Through stories, images and items, visitors not only lived the moment of the old days but also felt the sacrifice and devotion the older generations made to preserve the national sovereignty.
Do Thi Hai felt proud and emotional when seeing the items of her late husband, Le Van Ba, who the French colonial government imprisoned from 1952-1953.
Hai said she was very young then but understood the day's significance. "I am happy to see my husband's belongings on display."
Tran Duc Toan, Hai's grandson, was proud to see his grandfather's works and contributions to independence. "I feel grateful for what the previous generations did," he said.