Archive for the V. Arts & Culture Category

Original Wallpaper/Art Commemorating South Vietnam and the ARVN

Posted in Art, Modern History, Politics 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.

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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, Modern History, Politics 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: 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.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Posted in Announcements, Poetry with tags , , , , , , on December 25, 2011 by Ian Pham

“Maybe Christmas… doesn’t come from the store,
maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little but more.” – Dr. Seuss

I’m sure you’ve already noticed (since it’s pretty obvious) that this post has nothing to do with Vietnamese politics.  Just a line from one of the most beloved Christmas stories of all time, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.  There is really no significant reason why I put this up, other than to welcome this holiday season, and hope that all of you enjoy yourselves and appreciate the people around you.  Whether you are struggling with personal problems, or just relaxing it up without a care in the world, this goes out to you.

It is true that for some of us, the holidays can be a rough time.  For various reasons, we may not be feeling exactly the way we want to, and that special feeling that we long for seems just a little bit out of reach.  If you find yourself feeling that way, just remember that you are bigger than your problems.  Keep your head up, let nothing upset you today, and most important of all… Smile.  If you are feeling alone, just know that out there, somebody is thinking about you.

As always, best wishes from your favorite blogger.  Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, and all in all, a Happy Holidays to all of you, dear readers.  Take care.

The Sword of King Câu Tiễn

Posted in Ancient History, Art, I. News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2011 by Ian Pham

King Câu Tiễn (or Kou Chien/Goujian in Chinese) was a ruler during ancient times.  Câu Tiễn was the leader of the Kingdom of Yueh, over 2500 years ago, at the dawn of the Warring States.  Yueh was one of the contending states during the Spring and Autumn period, after the fall of the Eastern Zhou.  Under the leadership of King Câu Tiễn, the Yueh Kingdom broke free from the grasp of the ancient Wu, re-emerged to conquer that Wu kingdom, and became one of the more powerful states of this era.  The Yueh Kingdom would reign for several centuries, before being swallowed up by the State of Chu.

The Kingdom of Yueh was distinct from the other kingdoms, as they were related to the people of Bách Việt, different from the nomadic tribes.  Geographically, the Kingdom of Yueh is located further north than the other Viet clans.  It can therefore be suggested that Câu Tiễn was a descendent of either the Ư Việt, Hồ Việt, or Đông Việt, as opposed to the Lạc Việt, who were located farther in the south.  During this period, King Câu Tiễn, with the help of his brilliant advisor Phạm Lãi (Fan Li), won many major conflicts against the kingdoms of Wu and Chu, turning Yueh into a major contender of this all-out war.

Today, in a museum exhibit somewhere in China, lays the sword of King Câu Tiễn.  Shown here are photos of the exact same blade wielded by the King of Việt over 2500 years ago.  If you look closely, you will notice the very interesting writing located on the face of the sword.  I’m no expert in Chinese literature, nor am I an expert in ancient Việt texts.  It doesn’t take an expert however, to notice the damning resemblance with the writing on this sword and the Nôm characters of ancient Việt.

It is very interesting that in Chinese history, Việt Vương Câu Tiễn (Kou Chien, King of Yueh) was said to be a Chinese man.  Obviously, with the fact that the Yueh Kingdom was located where the Bách Việt used to be, and that the name Yueh directly translates to mean Việt, it is clear that Kou Chien is Vietnamese.  Even more interesting are the writing found on his blade, which shares a shocking resemblance to the ancient scriptures of the Bách Việt civilization.

During the period of the Spring and Autumn, and the era of the Warring States, the country known as China had not yet been formed.  Instead, many independent states emerged, each with their own ways of communicating.  It just so happens that the Kingdom of Việt’s system of writing were the Nôm from Bách Việt.  The writing on King Câu Tiễn’s sword is different from the writing of the later imperial Chinese, and strongly suggests that the Kingdom of Việt communicated using the ancient Nôm of Bách Việt.  Furthermore, the grammar on the sword is distinct from the Chinese, meaning that Câu Tiễn not only wrote in Vietnamese, but spoke Vietnamese as well.

Political Cartoon: Dominoes

Posted in Art, Political Cartoons, Politics with tags , , , on March 27, 2011 by Ian Pham

Hey there dear readers, this blog has taken a hit in the past few weeks.  So many things have been going on, making it difficult to put out new blog posts.  I thought that the worst of it is over, but surprise!  There is still so much going on, making it hard to stay focused.  Well, life is full of surprises, and that is something that will never change.  Thus, I will continue to blog and try my best to keep you updated and entertained in the days to come.

This is a political cartoon that is proving to be true in the Middle East and North Africa, with the potential to spread even to the countries of Asia.  However, it is unfortunate that the momentum has lost its steam along these lines, for the Communists have carefully prepared for the coming wave.  China and Vietnam have been successful in preventing the Jasmine Revolution from hitting their respective frontiers, blocking the flow information and bitterly smashing any signs of dissent from the population.

Even so, I am optimistic that the change sweep across Asia as it is doing in the Middle East.  The difference here is that the  Communist system has established a monopoly in every aspect of the country, so it is without a doubt that any challenge to this extreme totalitarian regime will take much longer t0 develop.  That being said, the days of the Communists  are numbered.

This is especially true in Vietnam’s case.  The countless betrayals of the  Vietnamese Communist Party continues to erode their legitimacy, making them weaker than their counterparts in China.  The stupid governing of the Vietnamese Communist Party is slowly pushing their people to the breaking point, and ever closer to a real revolution.  The same can be said in China, though they are in a more advantageous position over their own people than the Vietnamese Communists.

So for these reasons, the amazing accomplishments that have created a domino effect in the Middle East and North Africa has much potential in reaching Asia.  But because the Communists have such a tight grip on the people, it will take longer for the movements to cultivate.  Even so, the people of Asia want democracy.  Vietnam, China, Burma, and all the other dictatorships are fighting for their very existence, and even one spark can change the course of history.  Let’s fight for it together.

Editor’s Note: One year and one day ago, March 26, 2010, Freedom For Vietnam was established.  It is amazing how many readers have found their way here in such a short amount of time.  Thank you for visiting, and we hope that you all continue to enjoy what we have to give.  Cheers!