The National Heroes
The Chinese Army came to disarm the Japanese but messed all up. It finally sold VN out to the French. Different Vietnamese political parties in the country joined forces to fight for the Independence of the Mother Land. Hanoi had five gates from which the combatants could get in and out of the city during the fights. We used to live near the one that opened toward the South side of Hanoi. Quynh Loi was the name of the area and also the name of the battle.
Quynh Loi was famous because it was the final battle after which we lost Hanoi for 9 years until the surrender of the French army at Dien Bien Phu. Our family lived next door to Hanoi University in a two story house with windows opened to the University dorms in the middle of the area called Bach Mai. Bach Mai was like one of the Quynh Lois downtowns.
The French had occupied the four other gates. They had planned to move through the University Campus before the winter ended. Vietnamese troups from the Resistance Movement were blocked and killed all over. My brother Mac was leading the battle at Quynh Loi with the help with his two brothers But and Nghien who were civilians at the time while Mac had joined the Resistance Forces secretly a few years ago.
What made this battle so great was the courage and the spirit of the men who served it. A number of them stayed to fight till the end in order to keep the exit to the South open long enough so the wounded troups and civilians could flee to the countryside. Jan 15th-16th was a dark and stormy night. My three brothers were the last ones who got killed in an ugly ambush. They did not want to leave with the others. They chose to die so that the others could live.
The French took Quynh Loi but were not able to get further toward the South. The VietMinh Resistance Armies were formed right after then later the Communists took over and fought until the Reunification in 1975.
Some of the survivers have since added Macs name to theirs to remember him. Mac-Lan Le has become one of the well-known veteran contemporary writers. He wrote a book on the battle of Quynh Loi and the three Hoang bothers who were killed during the fight on the same night before Tet. The book has been presented to General Vo-Nguyen-Giap, the hero of Dien Bien Phu, by my daughter Dan Thu Nguyen when she saw him in 2000. I never had the honor to meet the General in person but my sister Le and I received a card from him one time at Tet, which I since considered part of the family heirloom.
We lost the battle of Quynh Loi. My mother died in 1991 in Los Angeles. In 1998, I made my first trip back to Hanoi to attend the Official Memorial Ceremony for my brothers whom the Government had proclaimed National Heroes of Viet Nam.
The war was over. Peace prevails. Viet Nam is still a country on the world map. The Vietnamese are still living on their own land.
At the Memorial Ceremony on December 6th 1998, the people bowed to the heroes with love and gratitude. A special ceremony was held for Mrs Hoang Thi Van, my mom, and we were presented with written acknowledgment in honor of my mom as the mother of the war heroes. My daughter and I were touched. We too, were so proud of her.
The ceremony lasted the whole day and ended with a big fiesta.