When it comes to celebrating holidays, I am perhaps the most pessimistic individual one can find as I have a real dilemma when symbolism trumps substance and truth. I don’t celebrate the 4th of July because if we were still a British colony at least everyone would have socialized medicine and the rich would be forced to pay their fair share in taxes along with everyone else. All this talk about “no taxation without representation” is hogwash; look at what taxation with representation has gotten us. Compared to the Republicans we have in Congress today, King George III is more like Mary Poppins.
The Creek side of me refuses to celebrate Columbus Day as I just can’t get behind festivities for another religious zealot capitalizing off colonialism and slave trade. As far as Labor Day, are we kidding ourselves? Time and time again the Republicans in Congress have exhibited their distain for the working poor and middle class. Have we forgotten very recent history where Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spent over $63.5 million to fight a recall whereas he could stay in power and continue his anti-union, anti-labor, anti-collective bargaining, anti-public employee, anti-woman campaign?
How quickly things change, under President Nixon police and firefighters held a special place in government. Under the new Republicans, police, firefighters, teachers, public employees have become enemies of the state. Like veterans, a reason I don’t celebrate Veteran’s Day, we have become fiscal liabilities and threaten state and federal balanced budgets that could easily be solved with a fair tax code and making Congress live by the same rules they impose upon everyone else. Yes, politicians claim to “support our troops” and always find funding sources to create wars; but once a soldier becomes an injured veteran, we are reduced to begging for scraps off the master’s table in the big house because they do not feel our pain; they cannot relate to us; and no one wants to face the fact that all we ever were was cannon fodder for ideological and corporate causes that we will never benefit from. (Reference Marozsan v the United States).
On the other hand, I will celebrate Vietnamese Independence Day because this is truly a day of substance. When colonialist French forces joined hands with fascist Japan and Nazi Germany, their misrule of Vietnam crated a famine that caused over a million Vietnamese to starve to death. During this time period, Ho Chi Minh was actively assisting Allied forces in rescuing downed pilots from the Axis forces. Little known in the United States, O.S.S. members (the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency) were assigned to work with Ho Chi Minh. At this point in time in American history, Ho Chi Minh was a patriot and “good guy.”
After the defeat of the Axis powers, there was no colonial presence in Vietnam. On 2 September 1945 at Bao Dinh Square in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam to be a “free and independent” nation. His “Declaration of Independence” was crafted after the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.
To head off another war in Indochina, few Americans are taught that Ho Chi Minh actually went throughout Europe to speak on this issue and even to the United States where he attempted to address Congress but was told he “did not possess the proper credentials.” Disillusioned, Ho Chi Minh returned to Vietnam where French colonialist forces soon followed with the support and backing of the United States. Not long after this, the French began a systematic program of rounding up and torturing political prisoners. In My Trach village, My Thuy commune, Quang Binh province French soldiers executed most of the village residents, which included 300 women and children. To give legitimacy to their actions and government, France supported Bao Dai, who would be the last Vietnamese emperor. Bao Dai was hardly an average Vietnamese as he had a summer home in France and one of the largest yachts housed in Monte Carlo.
It was during this time period that Ho Chi Minh transformed overnight from a good guy who worked with American forces during World War II to an evil Communist hell bent on world domination. This is revisionist history at its worst.
Ho Chi Minh wrote extensively and nowhere in his writings does he talk about expanding his influence outside of Vietnam. When the French surrendered in 1954, the Vietnamese were guaranteed national unifying elections-elections the United States, under Eisenhower, prevented from happening.
The American government alleged this was done because of “national security” code words meaning U.S. governmental officials felt the new Vietnamese government would be bad for American businesses.
Unfortunately thousands of Americans and over a million Vietnamese had to die in a war that should have never happened.
Ironic that today, I will honor war dead from all sides and celebrate the independence Ho Chi Minh wanted to talk about in Washington but was denied.