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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: August 2012

1 - Heritage


from all directions, from hanoi and from the surrounding countryside, several hundred thousand Vietnamese converged on a large square called the Place Puginier, next to the French Governor's palace. At that square, they had been told, they could hear the man who had suddenly claimed to be the leader of all Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh arrived at the Place Puginier in a black American automobile. He was supposed to speak to the throng at 2:00 p.m., but he arrived several minutes late because the streets of Hanoi were jammed with pedestrians heading toward the square. Having no dress clothes of his own, Ho was wearing a faded khaki suit and a high-collared jacket that he had borrowed from an acquaintance, and atop his head was a pith helmet. Men in suits waved small red flags with gold stars and a band played marches as he headed towards a high wooden platform in the center of the square. Just a few weeks earlier, the Viet Minh had taken over the city from a Japanese occupation force, which had largely stopped functioning after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but Viet Minh leaders still feared that the Japanese might interfere with this momentous event. For that reason, armed Viet Minh guards hovered around the platform and the rest of the square.