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Thứ Bảy, 12 tháng 10, 2013

Remembering General Giap, our “Eldest Brother” - VietNamNet Bridge

@ nguontinviet.com


General Phung Quang Thanh, Politburo member, Deputy Secretary of the Central Military Commission, and Minister of National Defence, remembers the legendary general Vo Nguyen Giap who passed away on October 4 at the age of 103. Article featured by Nhan Dan Online.


General Vo Nguyen Giap, the excellent and close disciple of President Ho Chi Minh, the first General and Commander-in-Chief and the Eldest Brother of the whole Vietnam People's Army, bid farewell to the nation and its people to pass into eternity.


Like any military officer and soldier, I always wished General Giap a long life. Though I have been prepared for the bad news, I felt very sad when the moment came.


The more I understand about his life, career, talents and virtues, the more I admire and appreciate General Giap.


I remember when I was a pupil at Pham Hong Thai Secondary School in Thach Da commune, Me Linh district of Vinh Phuc province (now part of Hanoi), I memorised verses of the poem " Hoan hô chi ế n sĩ Ði ệ n Biên " (Hooray Dien Bien soldiers) by revolutionary poet To Huu, which depicts the tenacious courage and fighting spirit of Vietnam’s soldiers placed under harsh conditions to win the glorious Dien Bien Phu victory:


"Hoan hô chiến sĩ Ðiện Biên


Chiến sĩ anh hùng


Ðầu nung lửa sắt


Năm mươi sáu ngày đêm khoét núi, ngủ hầm, mưa dầm, cơm vắt


Máu trộn bùn non


Gan không núng


Chí không mòn!"


(Bravo, Dien Bien soldiers


Heroic warriors


Burning wills


Fifty-six days and nights digging up mountains, sleeping in trenches, eating rice with rain


Mud mixes with blood


Courage does not flinch


Wills do not deter! )


The verses have impressed upon me, as on any other student, the qualities of "Uncle Ho's soldiers". Under the leadership of the Party and beloved Uncle Ho, and the master strategy of the talented Military Commander General Giap, the whole nation and all its people created the Glorious Dien Bien Phu Victory.


I left school and volunteered to join the army when the war against the American imperialists entered the toughest period. After the Road 9 - Southern Laos campaign in 1971, our unit was ordered to move to Quang Binh province to consolidate forces and undergo additional training to prepare for the coming battles. Unexpectedly, we had the honour of meeting General Giap. It was the first time I ever met the Great General. The sentiments of our officers and soldiers towards the General were truly special; love, respect and absolute trust. Through his gestures and the intimate conversations between the Commander-in-Chief and his soldiers, we felt his deep love for every officer and soldier.


Later, when I became the commander of Military Region 1, I had the regular honour of receiving General Giap. Each time, coming back to the revolutionary resistance bases, the General was always warmly welcomed by veterans and local residents, just like welcoming a family member back home. He was considerate of the socio-economic situation, social welfare, healthcare, and education of the locals. The General advised veterans to preserve and promote the quality of ‘Uncle Ho's soldiers’, strengthen solidarity, and be exemplary by participating in local socio-economic development activities. He reminded the local Party committees and governments to listen to and respect people, and urged officials and Party members to take the lead so that people would place trust that the Party and the government would succeed in the nation’s new revolutionary cause.


In 2001, I was entrusted by the Party and State to serve as Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army. I later became a deputy defence minister and finally minister of defence. It is my honour, pride and great responsibility to fulfil these roles. In order to complete the assigned task, I sought advice from senior colleagues. I frequently visited General Giap and consulted his instructions for building national defence and developing the People's Army, as well as his experiences in conducting international relations.


Every meeting with General Giap left an unforgettable impression on me. He told me a story about his time with Uncle Ho at Pac Bo (Cao Bang province). The beloved Uncle Ho told him, “In a revolutionary career one should be + dĩ công vi thượng+ ”, devoted wholly to the nation and people. I always keep in mind this recommendation, trying to learn from the General – a military commander who always adhered to the principle of Party leadership, complied absolutely with the Party assignment, and always devoted himself to the successful completion of any task.


Despite his advancing age, the General always kept his eye on domestic and world situations. He constantly reminded comrades at the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the Ministry of National Defence (MoND) to educate their soldiers on the traditions and character of ‘Uncle Ho’s soldiers’, to build solidarity among the whole army, care for soldiers and to work for the people while focusing on science and technology development.


Whenever I visited him, the General usually paid deep respect to the accommodation and spiritual life of soldiers, especially those protecting the border areas and on islands. In 2009, following a policy by the CMC and MoND on military uniform renovation, I guided the Ordnance Department to design some models of military uniforms, badges and shoulder straps, and brought them to the General for consultation. He emphasised the necessity to update the military uniform to meet the specific demand of military activities and troops building in the period of global integration. He insisted that the new uniforms be approved by the whole army, asking for thrift and transparency with a concrete roadmap for the implementation process. Following the General’s instructions, the uniform renovation, guided by the CMC and MoND, was completed coinciding with the 65th founding anniversary of the Vietnam People’s Army (December 22, 2009).


In recent years, due to old age and poor health, the General was hospitalised at Hanoi’s Military Central Hospital 108. CMC and MoND comrades and I paid constant visits to the General and informed him of the army’s situation. The General voiced his happiness and excitement and urged the whole army to make continued efforts to record much greater achievements. I never forgot to remind the hospital’s leaders and doctors, who had the honour of looking after the General on behalf of the army’s officials and soldiers, to let him witness the country’s historic events, including the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi, the 60th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory and the 70th anniversary of the Vietnam People’s Army. On every visit, I always stood at attention and saluted the General. Despite lying on the sick-bed, the General still raised his hand in a salute and shook hands with each of us. Recently, realising that the General’s health was worsening, I told the hospital’s leaders to let me know when he was on the brink of death.


For the 70th founding anniversary of the Vietnam People’s Army (1944-2014), knowing that the General would not be able to visit the founding site, I had planned to report to him when preparations for the ceremony were completed to keep him from worrying. That simple desire was not to be fulfilled. My last meeting with the General at Military Central Hospital 108 took place at 2.30pm on October 4, just three hours before he took his last breath.


I have learnt many lessons from the General. As the Commander of the Vietnam People’s Army and the Civil Defence Force, I pledge to accompany the CMC and MoND to strengthen unity and continue consulting the Party and State on military and national defence assignments, following the advice and reminders of our " Eldest Brother", Vo Nguyen Giap.


The whole army pledges to be a united bloc in intention and action, fostering a flesh and blood relationship with the people and making further efforts to maintain and enact the fine traditions of "Uncle Ho’s soldiers". The People’s Army, along with the People’s Public Security and Civil Defence Force, really serves as the core force in defending the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and maintaining unity and friendship with neighbouring countries and those around the world, in order to promote socio-economic development and deserve the trust given by the Party, State and people.


QDND/ND/VNA



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