While collecting documents and artefacts of the resistance, Hanoi Museum staff met and interacted with veterans of Hanoi origin living in Phu Tho. In 1965, Hanoi mobilized more than 15,000 people to join the standing army, equal to the number of troops recruited in 5 years (1959-1964). In 10 years (1965-1975), more than 170,000 young men from the former Ha Tay Province enlisted to fight on all battlefields. Hanoi youth volunteers fought on many fronts, particularly on the battle lines of Military Region 4, including Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, and Quang Tri, and they participated in production, road construction, and transportation. The stories of the old battlefield, especially those associated with the veterans' resistance memorabilia, always captivate the listeners.

Mr. Nguyen Van Am, a native of Tu Nhien Commune, Thuong Tin District, Hanoi, joined the army in February 1964. In 1969, after training and fighting in the Northern provinces, he participated in combat in Lang Khang Village (Buala Pha District, Khammuane Province, Laos) at the 12th Military Station, 284th Regiment before entering the battlefield of Quang Tri in 1971. As soon as he mentioned these places, his voice lowered: "My brothers sacrificed a lot that day. They must still be lying there now, within the grass, the rivers, and the villages". The old soldier's eyes welled up with tears when he remembered his fallen comrades. He buried them with his own hands or brought them home. "All of that, I can't forget until I die." The mug made from a flare tube is war memorabilia, like a friend who has followed him for nearly 50 years. Mr. Am recalled the days of fighting in Laos, where life was harsh because drinkable water was insufficient. He and his comrades spent five nights watching where the enemy dropped hundreds of flares. No one dared to take them because "they spread poison, ice bombs, pineapple bombs, string bombs, and magnetic bombs. We had to use a long rope tied to the trunk of a bamboo tree and then explode the bombs and mines to crawl out of the way to get the flare tubes. We got four tubes and made 12 capped mugs using wood and knives. For us, their value was more than gold".

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The mug is handmade from a flare tube - a loyal friend who has followed Mr. Nguyen Van Am for nearly 50 years. 

This mug was an inseparable object for him throughout his years of hard fighting. In 1976, the army discharged Mr. Am when he took the mug home and carefully stored it. The mug remained helpful for his family when his son fell ill and went to the hospital; "It was a very difficult time when my son was sick and almost died. When I took him to the hospital, I had to bring a firewood bundle for cooking. The mug was used to boil water and cook rice and soup for my son at the hospital. The body of the mug was engraved with the words "In memory of West Truong Son", but the engraving faded over time", said Mr. Am.

When they participated in combat, the soldiers in the past were all young men in their twenties. "Hardship, fierceness, deprivation, and even the deaths of comrades seemed to bring us down. However, we knew behind us was the Fatherland, the homeland, the parents, and loved ones waiting for us. Above all were honour, self-esteem, duty, and a sense of responsibility." This awareness has helped the young people of Hanoi, in particular, and the country's youth, in general, to show bravery and the will to fight resiliently to protect the country's peace.

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Veteran Nguyen Van Am hands over the mug to Mr Nguyen Tien Da, Director of Hanoi Museum

Veteran Nguyen Van Am donated the mug to the Hanoi Museum, hoping that future generations would understand the difficulties and hardships that their forefathers faced in regaining national independence. The mug signifies a vital contribution to traditional propaganda and education for the young generation of today and tomorrow.


Phạm Ngọc Quyên