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30 years since the war ended, Vietnam focusses on future

Economic rejuvenation is the key word; hundreds of war veterans join celebrations

HO CHI MINH CITY: APRIL 30 Marching troops paraded down the same route taken by North Vietnamese tanks when they rolled into the city 30 years ago, as Vietnam on Saturday celebrated the communist victory over a government backed by the United States.

Watched by the country's top leaders and legendary figures such as war hero Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, soldiers, government workers and performers marched with red flags waving toward the palace gates. Hundreds of ageing veterans, their chests decked with medals, watched from the sidelines.

Giant billboards of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's revolutionary leader, dominated the parade ground and adjoining streets, which had been blocked off to the public out of security concerns.

Fading memories

The atmosphere has been mostly festive, focussing on Vietnam's recent economic rejuvenation. Memories of the war and its aftermath are little more than anecdotes in history books for most Vietnamese who were born after it ended.

``My father and grandfather fought in the war but I was too young. I think my future will be good because they created opportunities for my generation,'' said Nguyen Thanh Tung, an 18-year-old student.

On April 30, 1975, Communist tanks barrelled through the gates of the Presidential Palace, the heart of the U.S.-backed Saigon Government.

The fall of Saigon marked the official end to the Vietnam War, and America's more than decade-long attempt to halt the spread of communism in the region. The war claimed some 58,000 Americans and three million Vietnamese. — AP

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