Vietnam commemorated 50 years since the Tet Offensive Wednesday, with ceremonies and performances taking place in the city of Ho Chi Minh, whose fall in 1975 to the communist forces of North Vietnam marked the end of the brutal war.
The 1968 offensive, named after the local name for the Lunar New Year celebrated on Jan. 30, was one of biggest military attacks launched by the communist North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam against South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam, U.S. forces, and their allies.
The offensive was a coordinated attack by the North’s army in 100 cities in southern Vietnam that marked the beginning of the end for the U.S. intervention into the country.
Washington was shocked by the attack and officials reportedly said “communists just won’t quit” after the surprise operation. The U.S. had more than half a million troops in Vietnam by the time of the officinsve.
In Ho Chi Minh, half a century after the January 1968 events, entertainers took to stage dressed as soldiers and peasants. A number of dance routines followed, along with martial arts performances.
"We resisted the enemy until we had no bullets, we left our guns and retreated," Nguyen Van Duoc, 75, who had participated in the offensive, told AFP.
"The 1968 spring general offensive will forever be a bright symbol of patriotism, strong determination, and the party, people and military's willingness to fight for independence and freedom," said HCMC party leader Nguyen Thien Nhan during the commemorations.
More than 80,000 northern soldiers and Viet Cong fighters took part in the attacks that also intensified the anti-war movement in the United States which eventually pulled out of the war few years later.
The Vietnam War, known as the American War among Vietnamese, killed an estimated 2.5 million northern fighters and 58,000 U.S. servicemen, along with some three million civilians.