January 29 fell on the first day of Lunar New Year in two different years: 1949 and 1968
In Lunar New Year 1949 the country’s fight against the French overcame its initial challenges and the resistance went on the offensive. President Ho Chi Minh wrote a poem titled Happy New Year to encourage people in the struggle:
The file photo shows Uncle Ho (C) practicing martial art exercise in the resistance base of Viet Bac in 1951.
Kháng chiến lại thêm một năm mới
The resistance lasts for one more year
Thi đua yêu nước thêm tiến tới
Competition among patriots is going on
Động viên lực lượng và tinh thần
I would like to encourage people’s spirit and strength
Kháng chiến càng thêm mau thắng lợi
To rocket the resistance to victory
Ngành ngành thi đua
Every sector must take part in the competition
Người người thi đua
Everyone must take part in the competition
We will achieve victory
The enemy will lose
January 29, 1968 was Tet Mau Than (Year of the Monkey). On this day, Vietnamese forces from the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and the People’s Army of Vietnam began the General Offensive and Uprising 1968 (Tet Offensive) against Republic of Vietnam and American troops.
The President’s secretary Vu Ky said that the President was not in the country on New Year’s Eve that year.
In his diary, Mr. Vu Ky wrote: “Tonight from the city of Beijing, I and the President were listening to news, music and poetry while waiting for the eve. The President missed the country, the soldiers, the people and the children… He lives far from the country only on this New Year’s Eve for the first time since returning home…. There was the sound of firecrackers to bid adieu to the old year and welcome the New Year. Suddenly, the President’s voice resounded from the radio. He was reading the poem for welcoming the New Year (This is the President’s last poem for welcoming the New Year):
Xuân này hơn hẳn mấy xuân qua
This spring is more exciting than others
Thắng lợi tin vui khắp nước nhà
News of victory from the whole country
Nam Bắc thi đua đánh giặc Mỹ
The South and the North compete to fight against America
Tiến lên toàn thắng ắt về ta
Forward! The victory will surely fall into our hands
There were only two persons in the room. When the radio broadcasted the last sentence of his poem, the President whispered: “At this time the South is beginning to open fire.”
The Tet Mau Than offensive marked an important milestone in the fight against the US, and forced it to open talks with Vietnam.
Nguyen Ai Quoc (an alias of Ho Chi Minh during his revolutionary activities from 1920 to 1941) was calling for the support from two newspapers which he co-founded. These were “Le Paris” in French and Việt Nam Hồn (Vietnamese spirit) in Vietnamese.
In his propaganda leaflets, Nguyen Ai Quoc introduced the target of “Le Paris”: Only communism can rescue human kind, bring freedom, justice, love, unity and prosperity, jobs to everyone and for everyone without distinguishing races and origins. In conclusion, Communism is the true republic, it will delete the borders of capitalism which has been a long wall separating laborers all over the world, preventing them from understanding and loving each other”.
For “Việt Nam Hồn”, which was distributed mainly among Vietnamese laborers, Nguyen Ai Quoc wrote a poem with simple words: “… Because of the thoughts (above), I want to publish a newspaper in Vietnamese for Vietnamese to help our people raise awareness on their status (and communism). The newspaper will be called Việt Nam Hồn and published twice a month with a circulation of 100 papers.”
These were also the pioneers in Vietnamese revolutionary newspapers.
By Duong Trung Quoc* and co-writers
*The author is a historian and member of the National Assembly.