Monday, August 22, 2005

Cot Co Flag Tower

Cot Co Flag Tower in Hanoi
Originally uploaded by yellojkt.
Our first stop in Hanoi was to the Museum of Military History which is housed on the grounds of an old 19th century fort. The fort is a rather elegant brick building centered around the thirty meter tall Cot Co Flag Tower that dates to the beginning of the French colonial period. Even after two days in Saigon we were still getting used to seeing the communist Vietnam flag with its bright yellow star everywhere rather than the yellow with red striped flag of the former South Vietnam that is on display in Vietnamese shops and restaurants in the United States. Naturally, none of those were seen anywhere on our trip.

The museum itself is in a rather plain converted barracks style building which did not have any significant level of air conditioning other than lots of large fans. The museum’s premier display is the Soviet tank that actually broke through the fence of the Presidential Palace in Saigon at the fall of South Vietnam. The exhibits and displays had a good bit of background on Vietnamese independence from the French going back to an abortive attempt just after World War II.

Vietnamese tank
Soviet tank from fall of Saigon
Originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The sections on the “American War” clearly documented the strong and significant support the north was giving rebels in the south throughout the war. Another rather propagandistic section champions the strong international support that North Vietnam had internationally in trying to reunify the country. Oddly, no pictures of Jane Fonda were to be found.

At the base of the Cot Co tower is a tall jumbled pile of wreckage from US planes that had been shot down over Hanoi during the war, including large sections of some B-52’s. I’ve expressed earlier in this blog, how distasteful I found the frequent glorification of American casualties.

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