Friday, April 27, 2007

Ba Dinh Square 1

On September 2, 1945, on a wooden platform whose location is now marked by the mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam to a crowd of over half a million, and to the world at large. As the line begins to move I strain my hearing, trying to conjure the high, strong voice that spoke through the loudspeakers set up around the square. To open his Declaration of Independence, he began "All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness . . ."

Ba Dinh Square occupies the site of what was once the Western Gate of Hanoi Citadel. After the conquest, the French truncated the western portion of the fortress, establishing the district as a pleasant, park-dotted area of graceful villas that today house many of the foreign consulates. Chi Lang Park, sitting in the shadow of the Citadel Flag Tower along Dien Bein Phu Road, was once a lake where imperial solders soldiers bathed the royal war elephants. Just to the north of the Square, still used for official government functions, the Edwardian-styled Palais of the former French Governors General of Indochina was constructed in 1906. Across the common stands the modern National Assembly Building, to the west, the famed Lycée d'Albert Sarraut is still an institute of learning.

Several oval-shaped funeral wreaths flank the open doorway of the mausoleum, a brief flash of green and yellow and red against dark stone. A gust of air conditioning pleasantly hits my face as we pass under the inscribed words: Chu Tich Ho Chi Minh, meaning simply, President Ho Chi Minh. Inside, the quotation inscribed in gold on the foyer's red marble reads: "There is Nothing More Precious than Independence and Freedom."




Several oval-shaped funeral wreaths flank the open doorway of the mausoleum, a brief flash of green and yellow and red against dark stone. A gust of air conditioning pleasantly hits my face as we pass under the inscribed words: Chu Tich Ho Chi Minh, meaning simply, President Ho Chi Minh. Inside, the quotation inscribed in gold on the foyer's red marble reads: "There is Nothing More Precious than Independence and Freedom."

1 comment:

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