LA Daily News

Vietnamese community to hold first virtual commemoration of ‘Fall of Saigon’ due to coronavirus

The Vietnamese diaspora each year memorializes the day their country was taken over by the communist regime.

Thursday marks the 45th anniversary since the Fall of Saigon, a military and political event that prompted Vietnamese refugees to flee their homeland and create new homes in America.

The anniversary is a solemn event for Vietnamese Americans and it’s remembered every year with numerous public ceremonies. But the coronavirus shutdown is making the public element of that tradition unfeasible this year. So Orange County’s Vietnamese American community is planning a virtual commemoration – and they’re looking to take it global.

The online event is expected to draw viewers from across the world, including Orange County, home to the largest Little Saigon district in the United States, as well as San Jose, home to the largest Vietnamese American population outside of Vietnam. Though the fall of Saigon initially prompted more than 120,000 Vietnamese to come to the United States, the migration over the decades has grown to include more than one million people, with vibrant Vietnamese communities in Texas and Louisiana, among other places.

Some 200 Vietnamese community leaders from the United States, Vietnam, Australia and Europe plan to participate live via Zoom at 4 p.m. Pacific Standard time. Members of the community can join them via YouTube, at Quac Han 2020, or through Facebook. The event, organized by the Federation of Vietnamese American Communities of the USA and other groups, also will be broadcast by numerous Vietnamese-language media.

“We’ve been here almost half a century. When we first came, we arrived empty-handed. Now, we’re settled and have found success in America and other countries,” said Huu Vo, president of the Vietnamese Community of Pomona Valley and chairman of the United Council of Vietnamese Homeland and Overseas.

“But we never forget Vietnam.”

Vo will be broadcasting from his home in Diamond Bar. Other California leaders who plan to participate Thursday include Westminster Mayor Tri Ta, Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval, state Assemblyman Tyler Diep, R-Westminster, state Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Anaheim, and Rep. Norma Torres, D-Ontario. The event will feature music and the placement of a flower wreath at the Vietnamese American War Memorial in Westminster’s Sid Goldstein Memorial Park.

Earlier in the morning, another memorial ceremony is slated for 10 a.m. at the same park. There will be no formal ceremony but a simple laying of a wreath. Those who attend are encouraged to cover their faces and maintain distance from each other.

On April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese captured Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, making the end of the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, April 30 is celebrated as “Reunification Day” or “Liberation Day.” But Vietnamese Americans recall it as a dark day. In remembrance, a South Vietnamese flag on display in Westminster park is flying at half-mast.