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.

Annotated Bibliography: Robert P. Wettemann Jr.’s Book Review of “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam,” by Thomas P. McKenna

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2015 by Ian Pham

KontumPhotograph via Steve Shepard/The Battle of Kontum

Wettemann Jr., Robert P. Review of Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, by Thomas P. McKenna. Oral History Review 39, no. 2 (2012): 387-389.

Thomas P. McKenna served in the Vietnam War as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. During the U.S. drawdown in 1972, McKenna was still fighting alongside the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), taking on the invading North Vietnamese Army (NVA) at the Battle of Kontum. His book provides a firsthand account of the fighting at Kontum, where the ARVN and their remaining U.S. allies would once again ward off an invading NVA force three times their size.

Robert P. Wettemann Jr. provides a review of McKenna’s book, offering some valuable insight into yet another military achievement by the ARVN and their U.S. allies. Also taking place during the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive in the spring of 1972, the Battle of Kontum saw the South Vietnamese, with the support of the few U.S. forces still in Vietnam, foil another attempt by the communists to overtake the South. The brunt of the fighting took place in the last two weeks in May of 1972, where, in the words of Wettemann, “… a single ARVN division held off the equivalent of three divisions of North Vietnamese soldiers…”

A concise summary of McKenna’s book is presented in Wettemann’s source. Opening with the steady departure of U.S. forces as part of Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy, Wettemann’s review of Kontum gives coverage of the various stages of the battle, all the way up to the ARVN’s successful elimination of the NVA from the city.

As an academic resource, Wettemann’s review of Thomas P. McKenna’s book provides useful information on the Battle of Kontum, and gives readers some much-needed insight into the points of views of the ARVN and their U.S. allies. The South Vietnamese soldiers and their American advisors fought valiantly at Kontum to crush the North Vietnamese invasion. In authoring this review, Robert P. Wettemann Jr. helps tell this true story of another understated military success by the allied forces of South Vietnam and the United States.

Annotated Bibliography: Gary Lester’s Book Review of “Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam” by Lam Quang Thi

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2015 by Ian Pham

ARVN Photo, An Loc BattleImage via Amazon

Lester, Gary. Review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam, by Lam Quang Thi. Air Power History (2010): 56.

Dr. Gary Lester’s review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam provides a concise and informative summary of former ARVN General Lam Quang Thi’s book. According to Lester, “Hell in An Loc is an intimate glimpse into the inner workings of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) during its moment of great crisis in the spring of 1972…” It was then that the U.S. was steadily drawing down its forces in Vietnam, while the North Vietnamese built up their forces for an ambitious military operation to overrun South Vietnam.

In his review, Lester presents many insightful information from General Thi’s book, such as the details of North Vietnam’s 1972 Easter Offensive, a massive military campaign that was even larger than the Tet Offensive of 1968. The enemy’s “three-pronged” operation would find its way to the town of An Loc, where South Vietnam’s 5th Division, consisting of only 7,500 soldiers, confronted and repelled a 21,000-strong North Vietnamese onslaught.

Facing a massive invading force three times their size, the outnumbered ARVN forces incurred losses of 2,300 deaths, while dealing a crushing blow to the North Vietnamese Army, who suffered a loss of 6,500 deaths at the hands of the South Vietnamese. The attack on An Loc lasted from April to August of 1972, ending with the successful defense of the town by the ARVN against the invading North. The ARVN forces were provided with powerful air support from their remaining U.S. allies, who, along with the South Vietnamese Air Force, dealt heavy damage to enemy tanks and artillery.

An important note that Lester pinpoints in his review is the valor and bravery displayed by the “too often voiceless” soldiers of South Vietnam, in a significant battle that was largely ignored by American media. An Loc’s omission from America’s news coverage is an important point acknowledged in Lester’s review, a vivid example of the media’s bias towards the Republic of Vietnam, and how the Southern point of view is methodically neglected and distorted by the majority of Western journalists. Lam Quang Thi’s account of the Battle of An Loc, in the words of Gary Lester, “is a testimony to the courage and bravery of the ARVN garrison at An Loc. The book tells the South Vietnamese side of the story and renders justice to the South Vietnamese soldiers who withstood ninety-four days of horror and prevailed.”

Reading Lester’s review alone, one gains great insight into the Battle of An Loc, as well as a clearer understanding of the Vietnam War, a hotly debated subject in which South Vietnam and the ARVN are almost always misrepresented.

Introducing: The Annotated Bibliography

Posted in A Piece of History, Annotated Bibliography, Editor's Note with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2015 by Ian Pham

History

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Image and quote via Cal U

It is my pleasure to introduce to you all, the new “Annotated Bibliography” feature of Freedom For Vietnam. This new section will feature reviews and discussions on various research materials, which in our case, will likely mostly consist of academic journals and books. It will not be limited to just these, however.

How it will work is that, every now and then, I will write an article/review about an existing source of research, such as a book or journal article. Each newly published blog article, while being a standalone blog article in itself, will also act as an update to the bibliography, which can be found primarily in the “Categories” section of the blog, with another, truncated and alphabetized version in the “Pages” section at the top.

As of right now, there will be three different annotated bibliographic categories, based on three different eras of Vietnamese history: Ancient History, Dynastic History, and Modern History. The lists will be short at first, but with every new update, with every new article, the categories, and the bibliographies themselves, will continue to grow. In turn, you readers will have an increasingly large pool of references to look at, either for your own research, or just for your own entertainment.

By creating this feature, I want to help provide a place of reference, a foundation, in which we can all further our knowledge of Vietnam’s history. I hope it helps, and I hope you all enjoy it.

* As a side note, all the historical categories listed under “Annotated Bibliography” will be marked with an “A.B.” at the end of the name (e.g. “Modern History – A.B.”), in order to distinguish them from the categories under “A Piece of History,” which carry the same name (minus the “A.B.”), and mark the same time periods. This is important as articles from “Annotated Bibliography” will also be listed under the broader “A Piece of History” section, due to their relevance in this category as well.

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