Ho Chi Minh
BY JAAN LAAMAN
“Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom.” –Ho Chi Minh
These few words truly symbolize the long and noble life of one of the outstanding leaders of the 20th century—Ho Chi Minh. Born in Hoang Tru hamlet in Central Vietnam on May 19, 1890, Ho lived a long struggle-filled life of sacrifice and success. He died on September 2, 1969, as President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh did not live to see the total unification of his homeland, but it is a clear fact that it was his wise and honest leadership that led to the end of the war and total liberation of Vietnam on April 30, 1975.
Ho Chi Minh was a remarkable and resourceful person. He certainly was a true Vietnamese patriot as well as a dedicated Marxist revolutionary. He was a tireless organizer, a good teacher, a principled leader, and a life-long anti-colonial militant. He spent time in prison. He often lived underground using over 50 alternative names to avoid capture by colonial and imperialist forces who invaded Vietnam (these were France, Japan and the U.S.). He also was a poet. Ho was a symbol of revolutionary humanitarianism, devoted to the welfare of his nation, but also to the liberation of all oppressed peoples of the world.
Ho Chi Minh had a worldwide image of simplicity, goodness and selflessness. He was honored and loved as Uncle Ho. As a young person I vividly remember many marches and rallies where I joined my voice with thousands, often tens of thousands, and on some occasions hundreds of thousands of other Americans, as we chanted, “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, NLF is gonna win!” Here we were, citizens in the heart of America, getting a glimpse of the truth and sincerity of Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese independence struggle he symbolized. We knew our American leaders, Presidents Nixon and Johnson (Kennedy and Eisenhower before them), had gotten us into the wrong war for the wrong reasons. America was on the wrong side and millions here were determined to expose and resist this. We thought of Ho Chi Minh as our Uncle Ho, too.
“As the sun rises over the prison wall,
It shines on the prison gate.
Inside the jail, all is still dark,
But outside the sun has spread across the land.”
Ho Chi Minh’s life and work helped spread the revolutionary light of Liberation, Justice and Freedom around the world, and its still shines today.