September 2 is celebrated as Vietnam's Independence Day. In 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam's independence in a speech. The French, however, did not relinquish their former colony without a fight. In 1954, after many negotiations and battles, the French were defeated. Ho controlled North Vietnam and Ngo Dinh Diem eventually controlled the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). In 1956, Diem refused to hold a scheduled election to unite the states. Civil war ensued, continuing with international help until 1976, when the North Vietnamese were victorious.
Although Ho died on September 2, 1969, his presence pervades Vietnam. Despite winning independence, cultural legacies from France, as well as from Russia and the United States, influence the Vietnamese today.
This story was created by Heather
Cleary for the UCLA class,
Photographs are courtesy of Howard Besser.