On this date in 1945, Vietnam declared independence from both Japan and France.
How do you end up needing to declare independence from two very different nations? Well, France had colonized Vietnam in the 1800s and maintained control of the Indochina area until World War II. During that war, Japan invaded Vietnam. Vietnam went through a lot of especially tough times, and a leader named Ho Chi Minh helped wrest control of the city of Hanoi from the Japanese. More fighting during WWII and afterwords resulted in a divided Vietnam, with Hanoi and the rest of North Vietnam being Communist under Ho Chi Minh, and the south being ruled by some not-very-democratic leaders. And this division, of course, led to the long, grisly Vietnam War.
The war finally ended in 1975 and was unified under a Communist government. The nation has undergone a series of reforms and a period of great economic growth, although it still faces some pretty huge problems.
Vietnam's story is incredibly sad, and yet there are wonderful things to know about the land and the people. The Belgian singer Pham Quynh Ahn sings about her Vietnamese ancestry, saying that she knows her parents' homeland only through movies—only “the sights of war.” But, she sings, “One day I'll touch your soil / One day I'll finally know my soul.” Check out this lovely singer and her wonderful song—and enjoy some beautiful sights of Vietnam.
Also on this date: