Saturday, December 15, 2012


An old Soviet made tank in Saigon. Folks today are more interested in Toyotas.
The Ho Chi Minh Campaign” is the Vietnamese name for the last offensive that finally ended the war in 1975. Located down the street from the old Presidential Palace, the Ho Chi Minh Campaign Museum is today almost an afterthought. As I walked around this museum, I was the only visitor! Besides old weapons and usual photo displays, the biggest exhibit and centerpiece of this museum is a large model of Saigon and surrounding provinces. The exhibit shows troop movements from the war’s final days, ending with the communist victory. With flashing LED lights, it’s a very impressive display. Or at least it was. After flipping a few switches, I found it doesn’t work anymore.

Outside the museum are more captured American made weapons, plus a lot of Soviet built weapons used in the final offensive. I find that what’s most telling about being here, is not what’s inside the museum, but what surrounds the place.

Near the entrance, an old North Vietnamese Army tank sits out front. Soviet made, it is the very image of communist power. As I stand and look at it, I can’t help but notice that behind and above it, is a big sign from the Toyota dealership next door. Toyotas are much more relevant to Vietnamese today, than this rusting Russian tank.

Also on the museum grounds, a Soviet built surface to air missile points skyward. These missiles were once the terror of the skies, shooting down American made fighter jets and heavy bombers. Towering beyond the missile in the background, is the massive Prudential Insurance building, one of the taller skyscrapers in Saigon. Also across the street from the museum, is a Mercedes Benz dealership. I recall the two Mercedes I recently saw with the Prime Minister’s motorcade, along with other American made vehicles.
A Russian built surface to air missile, points skyward over the Prudential Building.
These days the car dealerships are getting much more attention than this museum, and the power of commerce is evident throughout the city. With the rise of business, and the decline of communist dogma, one thing is clear. The Communists may have won the war, but the capitalists have won the post-war.

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