Historical Dictionary



Upon returning to Vietnam in 2005, the Vietnamese singer and song writer, Pham Duy, travelled to central Vietnam to retrace the steps that had first led him to compose one of his most powerful songs on the violence and sorrow of the Indochina War – The Mothers of Gio Linh. The song tells the true story of Vietnamese mothers whose sons – the commune head Nguyen Duc Ky and teacher Nguyen Phi – were beheaded by French Union soldiers in August 1948. Their severed heads were displayed along public roads to strike fear into other villagers tempted to support the Viet Minh. Both men were from Gio Linh village. During his service in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Pham Duy allowed this song to be used for propaganda purposes. However, the song continues to be sung to this day both in Vietnam and among overseas Vietnamese. See also ANTICOLONIALISM; BORIS VIAN; CAM LY, MASSACRE; EXPERIENCE OF WAR; MARTYR; MY THUY, MASSACRE; MYTH OF WAR; TORTURE.