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The timeless hymn to national heroes

Historic July days. The month when blooming flowers showcase their bright colors and fragrances in the blazing summer sun, with thunder rumbling on the horizon and sudden downpours.

In my heart emerges a red flower color - the color reminiscent of the national flag, the Red River“s alluvium, as well as the song Mau Hoa Do (Red Flower Color), Nguyen Duc”s poem set to music by musician Thuan Yen.

The timeless hymn to national heroes

Visitors burn incense as a tribute to heroic martyrs in Quang Tri Ancient Citadel - Photo: Minh Duc

Every single line in that song sounds so majestic yet tragic, so profound and sacred: “There”s a soldier / Who left his poor thatched cottage in autumn / There“s a soldier / Who left in spring and never came back / His name was carved in mountain rocks / Forest clouds turned into tree shades above / An afternoon at the border, a white sky of mountain fog / The old mother”s weary eyes still follow…"

And the chorus is as powerful as a timeless melody engraved on the country“s mountains and rivers:”Oh, Vietnam! Vietnam! / The mountain where he fell / Burns brightly with the red flower color in the distant forest / Burns brightly with the red flower color at sunset."

The flame is the dazzling halo of the soldiers who fell that July to protect their beloved country. Their blood seeped into the land of Vietnam.

The soldiers were really young. On the day they said goodbye to their teachers and friends to join the army, they carried in their memories the red phoenix flowers in the schoolyard, red silk-cotton flowers on the curved village dike in March, as well as red roses from their first, most passionate loves of their lives.

During the nights of battle, under the shells that tear up the sky, the youthful soldiers still dreamt of the day of victory, when their country would be unified and peaceful with a splendid fireworks display.

The war is over. Throughout the country, from the South to the North, there are martyrs" cemeteries everywhere. Each of the graves is a key of the liberation piano that wraps up a life, a fate, a face, and a personality - but all of the soldiers shared the same volunteer spirit. Their graves may be nameless, but they are never nobody.

In Truong Son Martyrs“Cemetery, an ancient Bodhi tree gives the graves a giant shade; its heart-shaped leaves embody Buddha”s compassion and mercy. The peal of the cemetery bells conveys the echoes of all the immortal spirits, and so do countless temple bells across Vietnam, including the ones on Truong Sa Islands, a sacred spiritual landmark of the nation.

Or the sound of temple bells in Thai Binh Province, where many nuns were young female volunteers returning from the battlefield. Some even had stinging shrapnel in their head, as depicted in Pham Tien Duat“s poem:”Why don“t the nuns knock on the wooden fish / But, while reciting Buddhist texts, knock on their heads.” At that time, they suffered gradual hair loss due to malaria...

The Hymn of July is a song about immortality: immortal feats of arms, historical sites, and memories of loved ones. The narrow North Central Coast holds innumerable martyrs" names in its embrace, which bring the fierce days back when called out.

In the S-shaped country, the Central region can be likened to the middle part of the Vietnamese mother“s shoulder, her small waist, or her shoulder pole that carries the country”s ends on both sides - “Mother”s belt purse is tied with worries."

During the resistance war against the United States, on the front line of transportation, many incredible feats were accomplished. Truong Bon Valley in Nghe An Province was immortalized with the final sacrifice of the “steel squad” before the US president announced an unconditional end to bombing the North.

Meanwhile, at Dong Loc Junction in Ha Tinh Province, 10 unmarried volunteer girls gave their lives in the fateful afternoon. And there is “The Cave of Eight Ladies” on Route 20 Quyet Thang in Quang Binh Province - a guitar body relentlessly resonating with the young girls" aspirations for a peaceful life and romantic love...

Back in Quang Tri Ancient Citadel these July days, I walked lightly on the green grass. Oh! The green grass feels so fresh and smooth! And the song Co Non Thanh Co (Young Grass in the Ancient Citadel) by musician Tan Huyen evokes distant memories: "Lighting an incense as a tribute to the people lying under the grass / Young green grass, young green grass / Please don"t forget the ones who sacrificed themselves / On the land of their hometown."

It"s true. The country never forgets the sacrifices of martyrs and wounded soldiers, who left part of their blood and bones on the nation’s land. Houses of gratitude and nursing stations for wounded soldiers are their loving homes.

And some military veterans are still quietly looking for the remains of their comrades to bring them home together. Military poet Nguyen Duc Mau’s Truong Ca Su Doan (The Song of Battalion) had two heart-touching lines: "If everyone gathers here/My division will become several divisions".

The soldiers’ sacrifices are heroic, and the proud patriotic tradition is ever continued: “The father"s generation first, the child’s generation later / Becoming comrades, sharing the marching song” - Tieng Hat Sang Xuan (Singing Voice in Early Spring) by poet To Huu.

Jenna Duong – Nguyen Ngoc Phu


Jenna Duong – Nguyen Ngoc Phu

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