|Waiting their turn: Scores of people queue to visit the President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Dan
by Luong Thu Huong
Long lines of visitors were patiently waiting their turn to enter President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, despite the gentle early summer rain, just a few days before the national hero's birthday.
Though the mausoleum was officially open at 7.30am, many visitors arrived at the crack of dawn.
"I arrived in Ha Noi yesterday afternoon," said 78-year-old Phung Thanh Huan from Ba Vi District, 60 kilometres from the centre of Ha Noi.
"There are so many visitors to President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum every day, so I asked my relatives to take me there at 5am. I have visited the mausoleum three times, and each time I come away with different feelings", continued Huan.
Joining the queues with the first visitors is 66-year-old Truong Thi Cuc from the northern province of Ninh Binh, who left home at 2am.
"I have visited the mausoleum regularly since 2000, 12 times have coincided with the celebration of Uncle Ho's birthday on May 19," she said.
"We farmers want to pay our deep gratitude to the Party and President Ho. Thanks for providing us with a happy and comfortable life. I feel so peaceful whenever I visit him."
Besides Huan and Cuc, many Vietnamese from all walks of life also showed up to pay tribute to the great president of the country, such as villagers from Yen Kien Commune in the northern province of Phu Tho and war veterans' association members from Dong Hoa Commune in the northern province of Ha Nam.
Groups of small children from Anh Sao Kindergarten in Cau Giay District in Ha Noi had anxiously waited for months to visit President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum on his birthday.
A visit to the mausoleum has become a new Vietnamese tradition and a sentimental demand, which aims to pay tribute to visitors' ancestors who played an important role in the nation's development process. From the elderly to the young, the normal people to high-ranking cadres, despite their different states of mind, all are filled with peacefulness whenever they pay a visit to the founder of modern Viet Nam.
In recent years, thanks to the implementation of the Party's renewal policies leading to the growth in the economy, the expansion of the traffic system and the improvement in people's lives, the number of visitors to the mausoleum has increased steadily over the years, particularly on special occasions.
During recent national holidays, and also the national reunification day, which fell from April 28 to May 3, that there were 103,642 visitors to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a dramatic increase, in comparison with 60,000 visitors during the same time last year, according to the management board.
After nearly 30 years living abroad, 88-year-old Vietnamese-French Le Tung could not hide his feelings after the visit.
"I was so moved on seeing Uncle Ho again. My first visit was nearly 40 years ago, in 1976. The country has changed so much, so beautifully," he said.
Not only Vietnamese, but many foreigners also wanted to express their special affections for the president. Most of them realise that it is rare that world leaders receive so much affection from their people, as does President Ho.
"A visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is definitely a must-see while visiting Ha Noi. Fortunately, I was here on May Day to witness thousands of Vietnamese making the pilgrimage to pay their respect to Uncle Ho", said Gagnayre Thibaud from France.
Visiting Viet Nam for the first time, Tomomi Nishizawa from Japan was very impressed with the mausoleum.
"It is a beautiful building placed in the open space of Ba Dinh Square. Especially, Uncle Ho looks so alive, as if he were taking a peaceful nap."
According to Nguyen Trong Khanh, deputy chief of the mausoleum management board, it is expected that many visitors will pay a visit to the mausoleum during President Ho's 125th birthday.
He said that many units and departments would closely cooperate to provide comfortable conditions for visitors, as well as to ensure security and order.
"We are also considering many conveniences, for example, the visiting time will begin 30 minutes earlier than normal so visitors can avoid the summer heat, free water will be offered, and parking fees and spaces will be strictly managed," Khanh said.
Dinh Van Khang, an official of the Mausoleum Guards High Command, said that his group had been preparing to welcome visitors.
"The guards normally change shifts every 30 minutes, but we are ready to work extra shifts, and one official will assist and serve visitors during visiting hours."
"We all feel very happy to welcome many domestic and international visitors to the mausoleum during the celebration of our beloved Uncle Ho's birthday," he added. — VNS