Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen ‘the Patriot’, an alias of Ho Chi Minh during his revolutionary activities abroad from 1920 to 1941) wrote to the Communist International asking how many scholarships for Moscow Communist University could be given to Vietnamese students.
As the leader of independent Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh took part in the first session of the Committee for Country Building Planning, which grouped specialists, intellectuals and advisers for rebuilding the nation. At the meeting the President said, “We achieved freedom and independence but people are still dying from hunger and cold, freedom and independence have no meaning. People know the worth of freedom and independence only when people have enough food to eat and warm clothes to wear”.
On the same day the President began an unannounced visit to the northern province of Hung Yen. Talking with celebrities and intellectuals Ho Chi Minh said, “Our country is now independent, dyking is not the work of the government but of all people”. He encouraged them to contribute money and toilers to contribute strength to enhance dykes.
“Floods will never return if your determination is higher than river level”, he said.
After the meeting he visited a broken dyke in Hung Nhan District. He waded through the water to talk with workers reinforcing the dyke. He then went to Thai Binh and Nam Dinh provinces and returned home at midnight.
When the war was beginning to spread nationwide, Ho Chi Minh was still patient of diplomacy and took advantage of any opportunity to resume talks with the hope to achieve peace.
However the President warned in the letter to the French government and people, ‘If we cannot reach peace we are forced to fight to the end to liberate the whole country. Vietnam may be destroyed in the war, but it will be more powerful after the destruction. But France will certainly lose all and disappear from the Asia.’
The prediction came true seven years later in 1954 after the Dien Bien Phu Victory over French colonizers.
1960: the President went to Sau Kho Port to receive overseas Vietnamese coming back from Thailand. The day earlier, under the nom de plum of V.K, he wrote an article ‘Overseas Vietnamese are always toward fatherland’. He praised overseas Vietnamese in Thailand, and their tradition of unity and support for the revolution.
At the end of the article he encouraged them with a poem:
Mình tuy nương náu quê người.
(We are expatriates in another country)
Nhưng lòng yêu nước không nguôi bao giờ
(But love for the country has never withered)
Bấy lâu xa cách quê nhà
(We have lived far from home for a long time)
Nay về quê cũ thế là vẻ vang
(Now we are coming back home with honor)
By Duong Trung Quoc* and co-writers
*The author is a historian and member of the National Assembly of Vietnam