“Wind raises the flag up, making it flutter above the platform/Wind comes with overflowing new sources of life (…) The thirty six streets turn rivers flooded with red flags/Glittering yellow stars look like great flowers at the five gates…”
These are the lyrics of the song “Ba Dinh nang” (Sunshine at Ba Dinh Square) by musician Bui Cong Ky.
Whenever listening to the song, Vietnamese people both at home and abroad remember the 1945 revolutionary autumn. The nation has taken a more than 70-year journey with huge losses and plight, but lots of glories and pride.
Fulcrum for next journey
Photographer Hua Kiem, who used to be a teacher of culture of the General Department of Politics of the Vietnam People’s Army, was sent to a course training journalists of the Vietnamese News Agency to work in the southern battlefield in 1965. He then became a key member of the group of military photographers based at the Vietnam News Agency.
During the wartime, he worked not only as a war journalist but also a soldier. He joined battlefields from the North to the South, including “hot spots” like Vinh Linh and Road 20 connecting the east and the west of the Truong Son mountain range. Kiem returned home from the war with both pride and pains.
“Whenever I went to the battlefields, I did not think about “patriotism” or “national pride,” but I was resolved to complete my tasks and take the best photos. It was my responsibility to tell people in the rear and all over the world about the undaunted fighting spirit of Vietnamese soldiers as well as the justice of Vietnam’s resistance war,” Kiem said.
People were injured and killed every day due to bombs and mines. Such events as death anniversaries, Tet and even National Day were not observed during the war. Sadness and happiness came and went like whirlwinds, he remembered.
“During the war, all must exert unusual efforts. However, it was hard to describe our feelings whenever listening to “Ba Dinh nang” and the Declaration of Independence read by President Ho Chi Minh on radio on the National Day – both being choked with emotion and boiling with fighting spirit. It was a spiritual fulcrum for us to stand firm in the fierce war whose developments were unforeseeable,” he said.
“Wind raises the flag up, making it flutter above the platform/Wind comes with overflowing new sources of life,” the former war journalist sang emotionally.
“Ba Dinh nang” is one of the very few songs capturing the Ba Dinh Square on the historic day of September 2, 1945. It includes President Ho Chi Minh’s saying before he read the Declaration of Independence: “Do you hear me distinctly, fellow countrymen?”
With both fast and slow rhythms, the song fully demonstrates the strong emotions ahead of the country’s sacred moments, while picturing the war, peace, happiness and plight.
The image of Uncle Ho in faded khaki clothes and in the forest of flowers and flags, along with the song’s melody, has touched the hearts of millions of Vietnamese.
74 years have passed but such emotions remain intact in the hearts of those who were lucky to accompany the nation on the first National Day festivals. Flipping through stained black-and-white photos, People’s Artist Chu Thuy Quynh could not keep her hands from shaking.
She has come a long way and experienced many changes of life and art. The fresh and joyful feelings of the first times when she immersed in the atmosphere of the celebration of National Day has gradually passed over time but turned into concerns.
“When I was a little girl, I felt very nervous and excited ahead of National Day. Adults talked about the past, cleaned up houses and shared their wishes that may come true when the country is peaceful…Then, on September 2, my family often took to the streets to join the festive atmosphere. It seems that everybody chose the best clothes to wear on the day,” she said.
That day, bright smiles always stayed on the faces of youths. But there were old mothers with sad eyes as their sons were still combating on the front. It seems that National Day brought people closer together. Strangers smiled and waved to each other,” the artist reminisced.
“For me, each celebration of National Day is a reminder of citizen responsibility and professional attitude.”
Later, Quynh became a professional dancer and performed for soldiers and people on National Day.
“The stage was sometimes splendid like the one at the Opera House, or yards of communal houses, flower gardens and familiar pavements…Even so, in any place, I still felt happy when receiving public appraisals. Children gave me wild flowers they picked along roads,” she said.
Over time, along with national development, cultural and artistic life has also changed. Quynh’s biggest concern is how to preserve national identities amidst international integration, with waves of imported culture. Therefore, the choreographer has paid attention to optimising folk factors and historical stories.
Quynh, who is also Chairwoman of the Vietnamese Dancers’ Association, said the art sector has always considered historical stories one of leading important and key topics.
“The nation’s history of revolutionary struggle has created many great works. Many of them were performed right in battlefields without stages. An example is the dance “Gap go ben mam phao” (Meeting at the gun platform) was composed in 1965 in the battlefield of military zone 4, when we heard stories about the three forces of gunners, militia girls and naval soldiers) who together shot down enemies’ planes,” Quynh said.
Silent for few minutes, she said currently, the knowledge and understanding about the history and social affairs of some choreographers and artists are limited. Therefore, they only collect relevant documents when they begin to create history-themed works.
Quynh pointed out the fact that these artists have no time to study the history and some works have yet to fully reflect historical events and figures.
Her shoulders suddenly shook and her voice choked when saying…/.