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Remembering the Fall of Saigon --
and Why We Must Never Forget
By Rand Green Editor & Publisher, Perspicacity Press
Founder, Spread Freedom Institute
Saturday, April 30, 2005, marked the 30th anniversary of
the fall of Saigon to Communist North Vietnam.
It is a commemorative event that did not go unnoticed in
press. A quick search turned up hundreds of stories relating to the fall of
Saigon published in mainstream American newspapers during the week leading
up to April 30. Sadly but not surprisingly, about 90 percent of these
stories continue to perpetrate the Communist PartyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perfidious propaganda
line, just as they did 30 and 40 years ago.
(Story continues below)
The flag of
Free Vietnam flies alongside the Stars and Stripes in Freedom
Park, Westminster, California, at a monument
the American and South Vietnamese soldiers
who died in the Vietnam War.
never forget the courageous service and selfless sacrifices
of the American
and South Vietnamese soldiers who fought
shoulder as brothers in defense of freedom and democracy.
the world never again allow the forces of oppressive totalitarianism
to engulf a freedom-loving people. Photo by
There is story after story about what a joyous day it was
for the people of Vietnam when they defeated the American aggressors who had
invaded their country.
These journalists want you know that the the people of
Vietnam donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hate Americans anymore -- in spite of all those "terrible
atrocities" our soldiers supposedly committed and about which we are
supposed to still feel guilty. They just want to put the war behind them and
be our friends.
No doubt, many of them do want to be our friends. But I find
it curious that the same writers who tell us this would also have us believe
that everyone else in the world hates us.
Oh yes, and the country of Vietnam is now prospering under a
thriving capitalist economy, they will have you know. (Excuse me, but was
not capitalism the very thing the Communist revolution sought to destroy?)
Many of these articles contend that as North Vietnamese
armies advanced on Saigon in April 1975, only a paranoid few among South
VietnamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s population of 16 million feared a Communist victory and tried to
evacuate. The fears that a bloodbath would follow the American withdrawal
were, they claim, unfounded. There was no bloodbath, they say.
And by the way (they tell us over and over again), the
younger generation of the Vietnamese diaspora, those born after the war in
the United States and elsewhere, are quite OK with a communist government in
their parentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ country of birth. They donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see what the fuss is all about
with the older generation, those who fled the country rather than live under
a totalitarian regime. Ã¢â‚¬Å“That was a long time ago. Put it behind you and move
These same fictions are now taught as fact (with no
questioning permitted) in our public schools and universities which have
also come to be dominated by the radical Left.
But such outrageous prevarications cannot withstand
Having spent the last ten years in an intensive study of what really went
on, both at home and overseas, during the Vietnam War and the aftermath of
the Communist victory, I now have a much different picture than mainstream
media has portrayed over the last four decades, and a much clearer picture
than I was given, even, as a history major at a conservative university.
First, I will say emphatically that the United States did
not enter the war in Vietnam as an aggressor. We went there to help a free,
democratic and independent South Vietnam defend itself against aggression
from Soviet and Chinese-backed North Vietnamese Communists and to check the
global expansion of Communism.
Yes, our government made some poor policy decisions, about
which I have written previously. But American involvement in Vietnam was not
in any sense imperial expansionism, any more than was the liberation of
France from Nazi German during World War II. As former Secretary of State
Colin Powell stated so well, all America asked of France was enough land to
bury our dead.
Contrast this, if you will, with the demonstrably
imperialist expansionism of Communist Russia which, as Winston Churchill
warned, swallowed up every inch of real estate it occupied at the end of the
war. Contrast it with the aggressive expansionism of Communist China which
continues to this day.
No, the United States went to war in Indochina not to
conquer and dominate a free people but to keep them free and to defend
against the aggression of a ruthless totalitarian regime.
Secondly, the Vietnamese Communists did not defeat the
United States. Oh, we lost the war, all right. But we lost it on the home
front, in the propaganda war, not on the battlefields of Southeast Asia.
The United States lost the Vietnam War because people like
John Kerry, a 1960s war protester who served briefly in Vietnam for the sole
purpose of giving credibility to his protests and furthering his political
ambitions, returned and picked up where he had left off, not only protesting
the war but manufacturing lie upon lie about supposed atrocities and war
crimes by U.S. soldiers and even conspiring with the enemy to bring about
That such a traitor came within a few percentage points of
becoming president of the nation he betrayed is a fearful thought and ought
to awaken us to the dangers of letting mythmakers and anti-American
propagandists dominate our schools and news sources.
The best thing Kerry ever did for this country was to make
his service in Vietnam an issue in the presidential campaign, because it
provoked a much-needed public debate about the Vietnam War era. It generated
public scrutiny not only of KerryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s personal record and his true agenda but
that of his Vietnam Era war protester cohorts in politics and in the media.
It shed light on their Internationalist predilection (subordinate the United
States to the United Nations). It brought to public attention their
outrageous slandering of American troops as war criminals, which had but a
single purpose: to deliver to Vietnamese communists a victory they could
never gain on the battlefield, by undermining support for the war at home.
Contrary to reports in the American press at the time, the
United States was winning the war. The 1968 Tet offensive, which was
characterized by the media as a disaster for the United States, was actually
a solid victory. We now know that Hanoi was on the verge of surrender when
John Kerry, Jane Fonda and others conspired with AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s enemies, telling
the Communist leaders that if they would just hang on a little longer, the
American public would force a withdrawal and the Communists of North Vietnam
could have their way with their southern neighbor.
Ever since the smear campaign against AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s troops in
Vietnam began, many Americans have had pangs of guilt about what they
perceive as the wrongdoings of their country. People often say that we
shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk about these things anymore because they open old wounds;
rather, we should put the past behind us.
But those wounds continue to fester below the surface. They
continue to poison the nation. The wounds need to be opened and cleansed in
order to heal. Americans need to understand that we went to war in Vietnam
for a good reason. Our cause was just. We should be proud of that and of our
troops, the overwhelming majority of whom served with honor and integrity.
If there is anything we should feel badly about it is
abandoning our South Vietnamese allies before they were strong enough to
defend themselves against an overwhelming invasion from the north.
Those who opposed AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s involvement in Vietnam would
have you believe that by the time the decision was made to withdraw American
troops, the majority of Americans no longer supported the war. But the fact
is most Americans would not have supported the premature withdrawal if they
had known the outcome.
Those who opposed AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s involvement in Vietnam would
have you believe that the majority of the people of South Vietnam (some say
75 percent, some say all but a handful of corrupt officials) hated Americans
and wanted us to leave. That is an outlandish claim and totally
It is true that by the end of the war a substantial portion
of the population sympathized with the Viet Cong, but it was never a
majority. And it had become as high as it did largely because the anti-war
propaganda from the U.S. press accusing the American military of atrocities
became an effective propaganda tool for the Hanoi government. If American
journalists --and even a former U.S. Navel officer by the name of John Kerry
-- were saying such things about their own soldiers and accusing the United
States government of conducting a war of extermination against the South
Vietnamese people, is it any wonder that many of those people believed the
But there were many others who well understood that the
Utopian promises of Communism were predicated on lies and that living under
Communist rule would mean living in poverty and virtual slavery for all but
the party elites. There were millions among the population of South Vietnam
who were prepared to sacrifice all in defense of their countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s freedom and
democracy and who were grateful to the American soldiers who had come from
the other side of the world and put their own lives on the line to aid them
in that struggle.
Many of these people, understandably, felt betrayed and
abandoned when the United States reneged on its promise to stay the course
and not only withdrew troops but terminated the promised financial and
material assistance for the South Vietnamese military before it was prepared
to take over its own defense.
In the January 1973 Paris peace accords, to which,
inexplicably, our allies in South Vietnam were not even invited, Hanoi
agreed not to invade South Vietnam and the United States agreed to withdraw.
A nearly total withdrawal was completed by the end of the year.
The United States did threaten to Ã¢â‚¬Å“respond with decisive
military forceÃ¢â‚¬Â if Hanoi violated the 1973 accords. But when, in January
1975, North Vietnamese regular units invaded the Phuoc Long Province on the
Cambodian border and began rolling toward Saigon, the United States did
As the Communist military juggernaut pressed forward, the
residents of the cities and towns in their path began to flee by the
thousands. And they were slaughtered by the thousands --children and
infants; the elderly and the infirm as well as the able-bodied; women and
men alike. Apparently, the effort to escape life under Communist rule was
deemed a capital offense, justifying summary execution.
Among the prevalent myths about the Vietnam war is the myth
that the South Vietnamese soldiers fought only half-heartedly, at best, in
defense of their own country. That assertion is difficult to support when
one realizes that more than 200,000 South Vietnamese soldiers paid the
ultimate price in the ultimately futile effort to preserve their countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s
freedom. Certainly not all were equally valiant. But many in the U.S.
military who served alongside their South Vietnamese brothers-in-arms will
tell you that they would not hesitate to stand shoulder-shoulder with those
same courageous warriors again in battle.
And remember -- it was not the South Vietnamese soldiers who
turned and ran from the fight.
Nor, for a fact, was it the American soldiers. Many of them
were furious at being ordered to leave before their job was done. No, it was
the folks back home who, believing the lies of a treacherous few
pro-Communist activists and their willing accomplices in the media, lost the
will to fight.
But the effect was the same, and the end was near.
Almost to the end, many South Vietnamese were still
convinced that America would keep its promise, would storm in at the last
moment and beat back the invaders. But the promised help did not come. And
as the communist forces approached Saigon, with news preceding them of the
wanton slaughter of fleeing civilians along the way, panic ensued.
The president of the United States ordered military
transport planes to fly into the Tan Son Nhut air base on the north edge of
Saigon to evacuate about 5,000 Americans and as many as possible of the
locals who feared for their lives. Nearly 60,000 people were flown out by
fixed-wing aircraft, including some commercial planes that joined in the
rescue effort, the most massive aerial evacuation in history. Another 70,000
or so left the country by boat.
But the communists were determined to stop the exodus.
On March 28, Tan Son Nhut was rendered unusable by a North
Vietnamese bombing raid, and at that point military transport helicopters
were employed to continue the evacuation. All the rest of that day, all the
following day, and until the early hours of April 30, the choppers shuttled
refugees from the U.S. Embassy complex in Saigon to American aircraft
carriers waiting offshore. As the last helicopter departed, it left behind
hundreds of thousands who had tried desperately but unsuccessfully to get on
one of the flights.
The opponents of the war would have you believe that once
the last few American troops were gone, the South Vietnamese army had been
defeated, and the South Vietnamese government had surrendered, there was
universal rejoicing throughout a newly unified country, that everything was
copasetic, and that everyone was better off than before.
The reality is that following the fall of Saigon, more than
a million South Vietnamese were either massacred or thrown into prison
(euphemistically called Ã¢â‚¬Å“re-education campsÃ¢â‚¬Â), where many were tortured
starved to death. Often their only crime was owning property or allowing a
family member to leave the country.
Which brings us to another point. What North Vietnam really
wanted from the South was its wealth. Saigon, once called the Pearl of the
Orient, was a beautiful and prosperous city. A free economy had made it so.
The entrepreneurial spirit was strong, and the people were hard working and
In the North, the socialist economic model was a failure, as
it has always been everywhere. In the North, there was poverty. But the
promise of Communism was to take from the wealthy and distribute among the
poor. North Vietnamese soldiers were motivated by a promise that when they
arrived in the prosperous cities of the South, they could take what they
And they did.
The fall of Saigon became the sack of Saigon. Many young
girls were raped or forced to become the wives or mistresses of North
Vietnamese officers. Pillage and plunder almost overnight destroyed much of
the beauty of the city, its infrastructure, and its economic engine. It
didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make the North any richer beyond the immediate benefits of the
looting, and it plunged the entire country into deep poverty, although the
party elites became (and remain) fabulously wealthy. The decades that
followed were a nightmare of civil rights abuses.
Things have improved somewhat in recent years, and I
certainly hope the improvement will continue. Allowing more economic freedom
and some business ownership has helped the economy to improve, although the
opportunity to participate in the business renaissance, such as it is, is
still very much a matter of party privilege.
But the popular notion that Vietnam is now prospering and
that everyone there loves the political system under which they live is just
so much Communist propaganda. Human rights violations are still rampant.
Much of the country continues to be poorer than it was before fall of
Saigon. It is still a Communist state. It is not prosperous. It is not free.
And while the locals would not dare speak publicly about it for fear of
reprisals, many of them still donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like living under the yoke of Communism.
In short, April 30 is not a date to be celebrated with
rejoicing, as some suggest. It is an occasion to recall the tragic cost of
failing to stand up to totalitarian aggression -- a date on which 16 million
people lost their freedom.
April 30 is a time to mourn the staggering loss of lives,
military and civilian, American and Vietnamese -- both North Vietnamese and
South Vietnamese -- that resulted from a despotic regimeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s determination to
expand its sphere of power by force and enhance its wealth through
confiscating the property of others. It is a date to remind ourselves that
freedom is not free and that if it is not defended it can be lost.
In Freedom Park in Westminster, California, the
yellow-and-red-striped flag of Free Vietnam flies today alongside the Stars
and Stripes at a monument honoring the American and South Vietnamese
soldiers who died in the Vietnam War. May we never forget the courageous
service and selfless sacrifices of the American and South Vietnamese
soldiers who fought shoulder to shoulder as brothers in defense of freedom
and democracy. May the world never again allow the forces of oppressive
totalitarianism to engulf a freedom-loving people.
The anniversary of the fall of Saigon is an occasion on
which -- to paraphrase what Abraham Lincoln said so eloquently in the
Gettysburg Address -- to give increased devotion to that cause for which
those who died in defense of freedom on the battlefields of Vietnam gave
their last full measure of devotion.
Let us now highly resolve that those honored dead shall not
have died in vain -- that not only this nation but every nation shall have a
new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for
the people, shall spread throughout the earth.
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