Vietnam will build a memorial temple in a central province to pay tribute to 64 heroic combatants who perished in a 1988 battle to protect the country’s sovereignty over Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Sea under a one-year-long program, initiated by a social charity foundation under the Vietnam General Labor Confederation.
The temple will be constructed in Khanh Hoa Province as part of the program “Nghia Tinh Hoang Sa, Truong Sa” (“Sentimental Attachment to Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly)"), which will be officially launched by the confederation’s “Tấm Lòng Vàng” (Golden Heart) on March 14 during a ceremony in the central city of Da Nang.
The Golden Heart Foundation calls on individuals and organizations, both at home and abroad, to contribute to fulfilling the two objectives of the program which is expected to last for a year, Dang Ngoc Tung, a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam and chairman of the confederation, told Tuoi Tre on Monday in an interview. The first objective is to build a memorial temple for 64 officers and soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Navy who were killed in the battle against Chinese forces that attacked and occupied Truong Sa’s Gac Ma Island on Mach 14, 1988, Tung elaborated. Truong Sa is now a district under the administration of Khanh Hoa Province. The second is to give support to the parents, wives, children, and relatives of the above 64 officers and soldiers, and of 74 other naval officers and soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam Navy (the naval forces of the South Vietnam administration before 1975) who were also killed in action while fighting against Chinese forces that assaulted and occupied Vietnam’s Hoang Sa archipelago on January 19, 1974. “Three years ago, we asked the Khanh Hoa Province People’s Committee to grant a plot of land in the area between Cam Ranh Airport and Nha Trang City to build the memorial temple that looks to Gac Ma and the East Sea in general,” Tung said. He added that the program’s organizers have asked the Ho Chi Minh City Architects’ Association to create a design for the temple. “We are also working with some architects in Da Nang on sculpting the statues of the 64 Gac Ma heroes,” Tung said. In response to the appeals by the Golden Heart Foundation, the Tuoi Tre newspaper’s trade union launched a fundraising campaign for the program yesterday. The newspaper expects to raise VND100 million (US$4,700) from its staff and collaborators.
Appeal for support for “Sentimental Attachment to Hoang Sa and Truong Sa” program
Below is an English translation of the appeal written by Dang Ngoc Tung, chairman of the Vietnam General Labor Confederation:
“In May 14, 1988, China attacked and occupied Gac Ma Island, a part of Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago. In this unequal battle, 64 officers and soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Army fought to the last drop of blood and bravely died in action.
Forty years ago, on January 19, 1974, China used forces to occupy Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago and 74 naval officers and soldiers of the then Republic of Vietnam [the South Vietnam administration before 1975] unyieldingly fought against the Chinese to safeguard the archipelago and died in action, resting forever in the sea area of the archipelago.
All of these fallen combatants, who were soldiers in the country’s different historical periods, shed their blood to protect the territorial integrity of beloved fatherland Vietnam.
It is thus very necessary to honor their great sacrifice and merit, and to alleviate the suffering of the mothers, wives, and children of those who scarified themselves to protect Hoang Sa in 1974 and Truong Sa in 1988.
The Vietnam General Labor Confederation has launched the “Sentimental Attachment to Hoang Sa and Truong Sa” program to express gratitude to combatants who were killed in action while protecting Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, to honor those who bravely scarified themselves to safeguard the fatherland, and to show the spirit of national unity.
The program call on individuals and organizations, both at home and abroad, to contribute to the building of a memorial temple for 64 officers and soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Navy who perished in the battle on Gac Ma Island, now a part of the Truong Sa Island District of Khanh Hoa Province.
It also appeals for contributions to relieve difficulties in life for those who are parents, wives, children, and relatives of the combatants who were killed in the two battles on Hoang Sa (in 1974) and Truong Sa (in 1988).”