July 21st, 1954 – Following the defeat of the French, Vietnam is temporarily partitioned at the 17th parallel. Ho-Chi-Minh controls North Vietnam while Ngo Dinh Diem is Prime Minister of the South. A vote to reunify the country two years later never takes place.
June 11th, 1963 – Buddhists in Saigon use self-immolation as means of protesting against the government of South Vietnam. Protests erupt throughout the city, a bad omen for the violence that has yet to strike the city.
November 2nd, 1963 – Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem, and his brother, are assassinated in a military-led coup. Sister-in-law Madame Nhu, sometimes referred to as the “Dragon Lady,” for her sometimes demeaning comments, was in America at the time and sought asylum in France.
August 2nd, 1964 – The Gulf of Tonkin incident occurs, creating a law propelled by President Lyndon B. Johnson to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States” — immediately escalating U.S. involvement in the war. Saigon is fortified as the nucleus for U.S. equipment and personnel.
December 19th, 1966 – My uncle arrives in Saigon, with camera in hand. He is assigned to work in Intelligence for the military, joining other plainclothes officers in assessing the conflict.
December 12, 1967 – My uncle returns to the United States, with his one year service completed. In his free time he has documented the city with over 100 photographs.
January 30, 1968 – The Tet Offensive rocks the city, known best through the Pulitzer winning photograph of a street execution. The Cholon District sees heavy fighting and sustains extensive damage in the process.
1970 – On the streets of Saigon, soldiers used for crowd control.
January 27, 1973 -Led by Henry Kissinger, a peace treaty is signed with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. President Nixon declares “Peace with Honor” has been reached, as he withdraws American combat units from Vietnam. Other members of the military stay behind in Saigon.
April 30, 1975 – The People’s Army of Vietnam enters Saigon, hours after the complete withdrawal of Americans and the fleeing of thousands of Vietnamese by helicopter and boat. After 30 years of separation, Vietnam is unified once more.
Not long after, the city is officially renamed Ho-Chi-Minh city, which it has been called ever since.
2018 – Ho-Chi-Minh city is now a thriving, gleaming metropolis with a population of over 9 million people. Its status has risen along with its wealth: the city welcomes 13 million tourists a year, who can all marvel at the frenzied pace of life around them.
…. but if you listen closely, you will still be able to hear the sounds from so many years ago…. the buzz from the markets and the gale of children’s laughter… but as soon as you realize it’s there, it will be gone.