Nineteen years after the collapse of South Vietnam, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Little Saigon Saturday morning to mark the loss of their homeland with a bitter memorial they call “the Day of Anguish.”
As protesters marched along Brookhurst Street, the gunmetal-gray skies were filled with the buzz of six small airplanes towing banners emblazoned with Vietnamese slogans.
“We were trying to remind people that we have to take back our country from Communism. And we wanted to show that Vietnamese people will always remember that day in 1975,” said Ban Bui, the president of the Vietnamese Community of Southern California, which helped organize the event.
Police estimated that more than 300 people participated in the march, which drew spectators such as former Vietnamese prisoner of war Qui Dang of Stanton. Dang, who was a commanding officer in the Vietnamese army, moved here only a year ago after he was imprisoned for 13 years in a Communist jail.
“He’s very upset about it and depressed when he talks about the Communists,” said his wife, Quang Dang. “He always cries. He never stopped fighting for freedom, for human rights, for Vietnam.”
The demonstration, which started about 11 a.m., was orderly, according to police, who added that they did receive complaints about the small airplanes, which were flying so low that residents could read the tail numbers.
At midnight, the Vietnamese Community of Southern California--a recently revived political and social organization--scheduled a second memorial to end the anniversary with songs and prayers.