by HB Auld, Jr.
Forty-seven years ago on April 30, 1975, the capital city of Saigon, South Vietnam, finally fell and with it, the Vietnam Conflict was over.
Throughout 1974 and early-1975, the South Vietnamese steadily lost ground and the US military gave little support. US President Richard Nixon had promised the South Vietnamese support, but by early 1975, Nixon had resigned, Gerald Ford was now President, and he failed to convince Congress to uphold Nixon’s promise of support. The South Vietnamese, with no US support, rapidly fell back in total disarray.
Emboldened, the North Vietnamese capitalized on theses light defenses, taking one area of South Vietnam after another. By April 27, the North Vietnamese had completely encircled Saigon and prepared for a final assault and a complete take over.
When they attacked at dawn on April 30, they met little resistance. North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace and the Vietnam Conflict ended.
North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin accepted the city’s surrender from General Duong Van Minh. Tin explained to Minh: “You have nothing to fear. Between Vietnamese, there are no victors and no vanquished. Only the Americans have been beaten. If you are patriots, consider this a moment of joy. The war for our country is over.” (The History Channel)
With the fall of the capital city and South Vietnam, the US had spent more than 10 years and lost more than 58,000 young men and women who were Killed in Action. Thousands more were sent home, maimed and injured for life. Years later, a black granite “monument” to the dead slashed the green hillside of Washington, D.C., near the Lincoln Memorial. It stands there today, along with three bronze, life-size soldiers, as a reminder of one of the bloodiest and ignominious periods in US history.