Today, April 30th, marks the 35th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon, when communist North Vietnamese forces drove tanks through the former U.S.-backed capital of South Vietnam, smashing through the Presidential Palace gates. The fall of Saigon marked the official end of the Vietnam War and the decadelong U.S. campaign against communism in Southeast Asia.
The conflict claimed some 58,000 American lives and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese.
The war left divisions that would take years to heal as many former South Vietnamese soldiers were sent to Communist re-education camps and hundreds of thousands of their relatives fled the country.
In Vietnam, today is called Liberation Day and the government staged a parade down the former Reunification Boulevard that featured tank replicas and goose-stepping soldiers in white uniforms. Some 50,000 party cadres, army veterans and laborers gathered for the spectacle, many carrying red and gold Vietnamese flags and portraits of Ho Chi Minh, the father of Vietnam’s revolution.
In a reminder of how the Communist Party retains a strong grip on the flow of information despite the opening of the economy, foreign journalists were forbidden from conducting interviews along the parade route. The area was sealed off from ordinary citizens, apparently due to security concerns.
The photos below offer a look back at the Vietnam War from the escalation of U.S. involvement in the early 1960’s to the Fall of Saigon in 1975.