Original Wallpaper/Art Commemorating South Vietnam and the ARVN

Posted in Current Events, Modern History with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2015 by Ian Pham

ARVN Flag & Motto WallpaperImage by: Ian Pham/Freedom For Vietnam

Last month, Friday, June 19, 2015, was the 50th anniversary of South Vietnam’s National Armed Forces Day (“Ngày Quân Lực Việt Nam Cộng Hòa” in Vietnamese), a day to commemorate and thank the brave soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam for their sacrifices in defense of the former nation’s freedom. The day was celebrated annually in South Vietnam, and after the nation’s fall on April 30, 1975, it would be carried over and celebrated by Vietnamese refugees overseas.

Although I did not get a chance to write about that day at the time it took place, I still want to share with you all my own small way of honoring the sacrifice of South Vietnam’s brave soldiers.

I made the above picture myself, sort of, using my ultra basic computer animation/Photoshop skills. Before explaining the details of this self-explanatory picture, I must first give credit to the 720mpreunion.org website from which I acquired the image for the flag of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the centerpiece of this art/wallpaper. I did not draw that flag myself, but merely included it as part of my design. So, with credit given where credit is due, let’s talk about the picture.

As explained above, the emblem in the picture is the flag of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. It is headed by an eagle, clasping two swords in each claw, surrounded by two laurel wreaths, and carrying the Coat of Arms of South Vietnam on its chest. Behind the eagle are the three horizontal red stripes of South Vietnam’s national flag, which represents the three regions of Vietnam: The North, the Central, and the South.

Under the eagle is a banner that reads:

Tổ Quốc, Danh Dự, Trách Nhiệm,”

This is the official motto of the Republic of Vietnam and its armed forces, and in English means:

Fatherland, Honor, Duty.”

This takes us to the part of the wallpaper/art that I actually worked on myself. The yellow background, and the prominent, in-your-face, black-colored writing in English that reads, “Fatherland. Honor. Duty.” That was all me, people. Pretty crazy, right?

I know the design is simple, but I think it conveys the message strongly.

South Vietnam and its armed forces had a proud and noble motto. They fought by it, and they died by it. The Republic of Vietnam was a democratic nation that championed the rights and freedoms of its citizens. The ARVN defended their country with courage, pride, and dignity. It is because of these reasons that even after 40 years since the nation’s fall, we still honor this nation and its brave soldiers.

We are proud of our South Vienamese legacy, and we will remember the courage and sacrifice that its soldiers made in defense of our freedom.

To the soldiers of the ARVN, from all freedom-loving Vietnamese people everywhere, we thank you.

As Expected, Zero Progress Made From Nguyen Phu Trong’s “Historic” Visit to Washington

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , , , , on July 8, 2015 by Ian Pham

Washington MeetingImage via Yahoo News

I felt I should follow up from my last article about VCP General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s self-proclaimed “historic” visit to meet President Barack Obama in Washington. Like I forecasted just a day ago, the talks indeed yielded zero actual change from the status quo.

The talks were straightforward, relaxed, with little point whatsoever. Pleasantries were exchanged, Nguyen Phu Trong lauds the “progress” that has been made in U.S.-Vietnam relations, with President Obama courteously expressing optimism for the future. The usual topics were brought up, like Chinese aggression in the Pacific, the possibility of the formation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and of course, the issue of human rights.

According to the Washington Times, Trong invited President Obama to visit Vietnam, in which the President has replied that he will do so “… some time in the future.”

There were some notable happenings that revolved around the meeting, but were not part of the meeting itself. A group of bipartisan lawmakers in the White House advised the President prior to the meeting to press Nguyen Phu Trong more strongly on the human rights issue.

From the same Washington Times source:

“This authoritarian one-party system is the root cause of the deplorable human rights situation in Vietnam,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican. “As the list of detained Vietnamese bloggers and prisoners of conscience gets longer and longer, it is even more important than ever that the United States sends a clear message to the Hanoi authorities that respect for human rights is essential for a closer economic and security relationship.”

The other notable happening in relation with Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit was the hundreds-strong protest taking place outside of the White House during the meeting.

According to Jerome Cartillier:

A few hundred protesters rallied outside the White House, calling for expanded human rights in Vietnam — an issue that has sparked concern among some American lawmakers about deepening ties.

Demonstrators carried signs with slogans like “Freedom of speech in Vietnam now” and called on Hanoi to release all political prisoners.

Washington ProtestProtesters outside of the White House during Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s meeting with President Obama. Photo via Yahoo News

Although the meeting between President Obama and the idiot General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong was exactly as unproductive and pointless as expected, I am still happy to hear that the issue of human rights is still on the minds of U.S. lawmakers. I am even more proud of the part played by the Vietnamese community.

Commendation to all who participated in the protests yesterday. You made a great impact, and your passion and dedication is undoubtedly being heard. As the actions of the U.S. lawmakers urging the President to be tougher on Trong has shown, your voice is making a difference.

We have to keep pushing, we have to keep making a difference. Persistence is everything.

Predictions For Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s VCP General Secretary’s Visit to Washington Today

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , , , , on July 7, 2015 by Ian Pham

Nguyen Phu Trong(AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)

Vietnam’s General Secretary, the leader of the VCP and the country’s man in charge, Nguyen Phu Trong arrives in Washington today to meet with President Barack Obama.

According to the White House:

On July 7, 2015, President Obama will welcome to the White House Nguyen Phu Trong, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam.  The President looks forward to discussing with General Secretary Trong ways to strengthen further the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, reflecting on the accomplishments of the past twenty years since the normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations.  The President also welcomes the opportunity to discuss other issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, human rights, and bilateral defense cooperation.

I’m not exactly sure what will come out of this meeting. The Vietnamese government in Hanoi has demonstrated time and again that they are firmly under the thumb of Beijing. Moreover, members of the VCP, with party chief Trong being one of the biggest offenders, have all shown ineptitude in reaching any sort of solution to the woes of their country, economically, socially, and politically.

For these reasons, I believe that President Obama’s hopes of establishing closer ties with Vietnam will once again fall short of any substantial gains. Human rights remains an issue that has hindered the U.S. goal of establishing a meaningful partnership with Vietnam, and judging from the ongoing violations that the communist state continues to orchestrate, this issue shows little hope of being resolved anytime soon.

The U.S. has deep interests in strengthening relations with Vietnam, and is willing to offer the communist nation vast benefits to reach that end. However, judging from the VCP’s tendency to fashion their foreign policy in accordance with Beijing’s wishes, it is highly unlikely that Trong or the VCP will risk offending China by warming up to the United States, no matter how beneficial siding with America is to Vietnam’s growth.

In terms of strengthening relations with Vietnam, the U.S. is willing to offer Vietnam a seat in the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as well as the easing of restrictions on the sales of lethal weaponry, and the increasing of economic ties. The U.S. wants to provide Vietnam with these major benefits, and has been very patient with the communist state’s continued intransigence, most notably with Vietnam diplomatically siding with China and blatantly abusing human rights domestically.

Besides the complicated situation with China, human rights is the only major impediment to Vietnam gaining the extensive economic, military, and geopolitical benefits that comes from partnership with the United States. However, as a communist government who is struggling to maintain stranglehold on power, as a cowardly government in constant fear of offending China, and as dullards who can’t hit water if they fell out of a boat, the Vietnamese Communist Party and its leader Nguyen Phu Trong will not be smart enough to take the many benefits that the U.S. is wanting to give to them.

In my predictions, no substantial agreements will be met between Vietnam and the United States. Unless President Obama is willing to overlook the human rights issue completely, something I really hope he does not do, it is doubtful that the establishment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will become a reality.

Nguyen Phu Trong, nicknamed “Trọng Lú,” or “Trọng the Stupid,” or “Trọng the Confused,” or “Trọng the Dazed,” or “Trọng the Dullard,” (depending on your choice of translation) by the international Vietnamese community, will not make the obvious choice of simply improving human rights to vastly benefit his country. It’s so simple, but he will not get it. He’s called Trọng Lú for a reason.

The only thing I hope to see today are the major democracy, human rights, and anti-communist protests upon Trong’s arrival. Any organization that is staging demonstrations, all the more power to you. Come out in droves, make him hear you.

“Trọng Lú.”

Why Seattle’s City Council Should Absolutely Recognize the Heritage and Freedom Flag

Posted in Modern History, Current Events with tags , , , , on June 24, 2015 by Ian Pham

Flags of the U.S. and South VietnamPhoto via Mark Boster/TPN

It’s been brought to my attention that the city of Seattle’s City Council is currently in a vote on whether to recognize South Vietnam’s “Heritage and Freedom Flag” as the official flag of the Vietnamese community there. Although sources indicate that the vote was slated for earlier this week on Monday, I have yet to hear the outcome, and thus feel the need to express my position on the matter as well.

I’m sure I am not alone in saying that recognizing the yellow flag is a fantastic idea that makes absolute and perfect sense. For those who truly understand the story of that flag, one will know why it resonates so dearly in the hearts of Vietnamese-Americans, and why, after 40 years, it still stands as their flag of choice.

For Vietnamese people overseas, the Heritage and Freedom Flag is a symbol of freedom, democracy, and independence. It is living proof that for a time, if only a short time, there existed a Vietnamese nation that was independent, proud, and free.

Without getting into the historical debate, I will skip straight to the point: Anyone who lived under the regime of the Republic of Vietnam knows that it was a democracy, a strong and independent nation, a place that they truly called home. South Vietnam was a prosperous nation, with a great education system, a strong economy, basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, and one that defended its territory and people from the aggression of North Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China.

When Saigon fell in April of 1975, that proud nation of South Vietnam ceased to exist, sparking a massive exodus of Vietnamese refugees from the country. In all, more then two million people would flee from Vietnam under communist rule, with the dangerous and open seas being their primary means of escape. Some refugees fled by land through Cambodia to refugee camps in Thailand. Many runaways perished on this treacherous route at the hands of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Of the more than two million seafaring escapees, 250,000 lost their lives at sea from piracy and the elements. These perilous journeys were traveled all in search of freedom.

This Heritage and Freedom Flag, the yellow with three horizontal red stripes, not only represents the former Republic of Vietnam and its ideals of freedom and democracy, it also represents that harrowing journey made by the fallen nation’s refugees in their search for freedom. The flag is significant, not only as a piece of history, but also as a commemoration of the struggle that the people of Vietnam endured in order to find their freedom.

That yellow flag is a symbol of freedom, democracy, and independence. It is also a symbol of courage, determination, and persistence. This flag has come to represent the identity of all freedom-loving Vietnamese peoples, not just in the United States, but in liberal democracies all across the world. It is the flag that they themselves have chosen, it is the flag that they love, and it is the flag that they stand by.

This is why it is important that we support Seattle’s recognition of this flag, and urge the City Council to pass this resolution.

Your voice matters, people. Make it heard.

 

Here is the Movie Trailer for “Ride The Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Victory & Betrayal”

Posted in Current Events, Modern History, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2015 by Ian Pham

Here is the trailer for the new major motion picture, “Ride The Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Victory and Betrayal,” produced and directed by Fred Koster, and executive produced by Richard Botkin.

So, what do ya think? Pretty incredible, right?

Ride The Thunder Movie PosterOfficial movie poster via Ride The Thunder Movie

Here is the synopsis, according to the official website:

“Ride The Thunder” is the true heroic story of a friendship between American Military Legend, John Ripley and Vietnamese Hero, Le Ba Binh. The storyline follows their fight together against the communists during the Vietnam War and then the ensuing aftermath of the fall of Vietnam as Ripley goes home to a divided America and Binh is imprisoned in a communist re-education camp.

Since the movie’s limited release, “Ride The Thunder” has trumped its big-name Hollywood competitors in respective theaters, ranking #1 in America for box office ticket sales during its opening weekend. The movie is continuing to expand to theaters across the United States.

Fred Koster, the film’s producer and director, explains the coming challenges for the film:

“It’s exciting to see the movie expanding across the United States but we know that as an independent film we have challenges ahead in promoting to a wide national audience on a limited marketing budget.  It is simple, where we market well we do great, where we don’t market well we struggle.  People will only come to see our film if they know about it.”

There you have it, the continued success of the film depends on our support. Tell your friends, tell your family members, and let others know about the movie through social media (Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social network doohickeys you crazy kids are using these days). Most importantly, make some plans to go see the film when it comes to your area. You can demand it in your area here, let the producers know to come to your town!

Above, in this article, is the official movie poster for “Ride The Thunder.” Download it at the official website.

I absolutely can’t wait to see this movie.

This U.S. Marine’s Book “Ride The Thunder” Tells the True Story of the Vietnam War, Is Now a Major Motion Picture

Posted in Books, Current Events, Modern History with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2015 by Ian Pham

Ride The ThunderImage via Ride The Thunder Movie

Richard Botkin is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and the author of the groundbreaking history book Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph. He is also the executive producer of the new motion picture with the same name, debuting in theaters last March and kicking off its nationwide release just this past May. Both Botkin’s literary and theatrical works tell the story of the Vietnam War, as it should be told, describing the true valor and sacrifice of the South Vietnamese and American soldiers against the communist forces in Southeast Asia.

Serving in the USMC from 1980 to 1983 and then 12 years in the reserves, according to Tami Jackson, Botkin’s service “post-dates the Vietnam War.” However, despite this, “many of the men who mentored Rich Botkin, heroes he greatly admires, were Vietnam veterans.” As a result, Botkin has made it his mission to tell the true story of the Vietnam War, and “restore the rightful honor due those Americans and South Vietnamese who served there…”

Ride The Thunder BookImage via WND

Botkin accomplishes this endeavor first through the authoring of his book, Ride the Thunder, published on July 13, 2009, which tells the story of the Vietnam War through the eyes of the allied forces of South Vietnam and the United States. As a source for Vietnam War research, Botkin’s 652-page book, in Jackson’s words, “is the culmination of 5 years of writing, 1 year of editing, 4 trips to Vietnam,” and “thousands of hours interviewing American and South Vietnamese Marines.”

According to Amazon, “Ride the Thunder reveals the heroic, untold story of how Vietnamese Marines and their US advisers fought valiantly, turning the tide of an unpopular war and actually winning – while Americans 8,000 miles away were being fed only one version of the story.” Goodreads declares that “Richard Botkin’s book provides a fresh, provocative look at the Vietnam War and the heroic warriors who fought it.”

Now, after four years of filmmaking, Richard Botkin’s next step in telling the true story of the war in Vietnam has finally reached fruition. “Ride The Thunder,” the new major motion picture, directed by Fred Koster, has made it to the big screen, enjoying a resoundingly successful premier this past March in Westminster, Southern California. The reception has been so incredibly positive and widespread that the film is currently being released nation-wide across the United States.

I have yet to see the movie, but am very much looking forward to it. The trailer for it looks absolutely amazing. I plan to post it here, too. It’s just so good that I think it deserves its own article, which will be up here in a couple days or so, possibly sooner. In the meantime, you can enjoy the trailer by following this link, and maybe make some weekend plans to go see the movie if it’s in your area.

I’m getting a little too excited for this.

Annotated Bibliography: “The Blood-Red Hands of Ho Chi Minh,” by John G. Hubbell

Posted in Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2015 by Ian Pham

Ho Chi MinhImage via The Australian

Hubbell, John G. “The Blood-Red Hands of Ho Chi Minh.” Reader’s Digest, November 1968. http://www.lzcenter.com/Documents/The%20Blood-Red%20Hands%20of%20Ho%20Chi%20Minh.pdf. (accessed May 24, 2015).

Written in 1968, John G. Hubbell provides invaluable documentation of the crimes against humanity that Ho Chi Minh committed on the people of North and South Vietnam throughout the Vietnam War. As explained by Hubbell, these massacres perpetrated by both the regular forces in the North, and the Viet Cong guerillas in the South, were not isolated incidents, but actually part of Ho Chi Minh’s official policy. The brutality of these actions resulted in countless bloodbaths, and, as the author will illustrate, is nothing short of genocide.

Under Ho’s command, the Viet Cong unleashed a wave of slaughter on the people of South Vietnam. The Viet Cong guerillas, oftentimes assisted by the regular Northern forces, conducted a massive terror campaign against the Republic of Vietnam, subjecting the people of the South, both soldiers and innocent civilians alike, to the most barbaric forms of torture and killing.

At the hands of the communists, entire Southern villages were raided, their inhabitants rounded up and systematically executed in the most primitive and brutal of ways. In some cases, the villages themselves were burned to the ground by the VC. Families of Southern soldiers and government officials were kidnapped, tortured, mutilated, and often killed, either to intimidate, or as retribution against the breadwinner for their political ties. The communists slaughtered indiscriminately, not only killing adult men, but also women, children, the elderly, and even pregnant women and their unborn. At the end of 1967, according to Hubbell, the communists had orchestrated “at least 100,000 acts of terror against the South Vietnamese people.”

In the North, regular communist forces carried out savage political purges against their own population. Beginning in 1954, with the consolidation of power by Ho Chi Minh, “virtually every North Vietnamese village” was met with “strong-arm squads” who rounded up the populace for show trials and executions. The first victims were the landowners, but eventually grew to include intellectuals, civic leaders, businessmen, teachers, and others who the communists viewed as potential threats. Beheading, bludgeoning, shooting, stoning, and live burials, were only some of the gruesome forms of killing that the communists imposed on the North Vietnamese population. It is estimated that between 50,000-100,000 people died in these massacres during that time.

On March 13, 1959, the leaders in North Vietnam resolved to act against the South. It was from there that VC violence was amped up significantly in South Vietnam, becoming widespread throughout the country. Ho Chi Minh and the North wanted to dismantle the Republic of Vietnam, and sought to do so through terror and violence. Using the VC wing of his communist forces, the Northern dictator authorized those heinous terrorist acts against the people of the Republic of Vietnam, in hopes of breaking the Southern will. However, as the author explains, these atrocities would only push the people closer to the arms of the South. Those whom the communists believed would “rise and fight” alongside them against the Saigon government did “just the opposite,” fighting “like tigers” against Ho Chi Minh’s invading forces at Hue in 1968. Moreover, the institutions that the communists aimed to dismantle, such as the education system of South Vietnam, as well as the voting polls, would only become stronger, growing rapidly as the population presses on and perseveres in defiance of communist brutality.

During the war, South Vietnam was heavily criticized for its counter-terrorism measures, which the biased left-leaning U.S. media deemed as harsh and repressive. These characterizations were ill-informed, lacking in context, and heavily in favor of the communists. Understanding the true and horrific nature of the communist terror policy, as Hubbell’s report helps to accomplish, one gains some key perspective on the reasons why South Vietnam was so heavy-handed in dealing with the VC in the South. South Vietnam was facing a major terrorist problem, and had to implement tough countermeasures to effectively defend the state and its citizens from communist terror attacks.

Hubbell’s source brings to light those countless cases of communist barbarity, and doing so in great detail. The vivid accounts given by Hubbell illustrates clearly the criminal governance of the dictator Ho Chi Minh, who, as shown, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Vietnamese people, in the North and the South. These deaths were not collateral damage, but the explicit results of the actions performed by the man and his totalitarian state. In addition, Hubbell’s report offers some valuable insight on life in the South, such as the nation’s democratic values and emphasis on education, things that the communists were trying so hard to destroy.

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