Wednesday, July 24 2019

VietNamNews

Remembering a special moment

Update: June, 23/2019 - 09:12

 

 

WAVES OF EMOTION: An incense-burner floats off the Trường Sa (Spratly) Archipelago with Gạc Ma (Johnson South) Reef on the background in commemoration of 64 naval soldiers who died while fighting to protect the reef from Chinese invaders in 1988. VNS Photo

 

By Hồng Minh

 

Memorial ceremonies are always emotional. And the emotions are sure to bubble up in a stronger and more special way when the ceremonies take place at spots where the martyrs spent their final minutes.

For many travellers who are lucky enough to visit Việt Nam’s territorial waters in Trường Sa (Spratly) islands, its surrounding area and southern continental shelf, attending the two special memorial ceremonies commemorating naval soldiers who died to protect the nation’s maritime sovereignty would surely stir different emotions.

Grief and sadness are generally the foremost, but above all, feelings of pride and patriotism would be named.

On the Spratlys, a memorial service to commemorate 64 naval soldiers who died with honour while fighting to protect Việt Nam's Gạc Ma (Johnson South) Reef from Chinese invaders in 1988 is normally held when the cruise reaches the sea area among Gạc Ma, Cô Lin (Collins) Reef and Len Đao (Lansdowne) Reef.

 Here, 64 soldiers of Navy Engineering Regiment 83 bravely sacrificed their lives on March 14, 1988 as they were attacked by six Chinese frigates. Eleven others were wounded and nine were captured by the Chinese troops.

Speaking at a ceremony late last month, Rear Admiral Phạm Văn Quang, deputy head of the Political Department under the High Command of Việt Nam People’s Navy, emphasised to nearly 200 delegates the heroic sacrifices of the fallen soldiers.

“In the country’s thousand-year history, the islands and the seas are always a sacred part that cannot be separated from Việt Nam,” he said.

“With sweat, blood and even lives, generations of Vietnamese people have established, managed and firmly protected the sovereignty in the East Sea, as well as Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa archipelagoes.”

“In protecting the country’s sovereignty, many officers and men, even though they were aware of the dangers, were not afraid and decided not to step back, bravely and fiercely accept sacrifices to protect the national seas and islands to their last breaths.”

Tears of delegates fell when Quang recalled the story of Lieutenant Trần Văn Phương, who sacrificed himself to protect the national flag on Gạc Ma Reef with the immortal saying: “I would rather die than to lose the island.” When Phương died, a sergeant replaced his position and was also shot down.

The Rear Admiral also recalled the heroic story of Colonel Vũ Huy Lễ, the captain of Việt Nam’s navy ship HQ505, who, in the decisive moment, drove the ship straight on shore of Cô Lin Reef, making it a live marker of national sovereignty so the island was kept.

“More than 30 years have passed, but the memory and pain from that battle will never fade. The people of Việt Nam will never forget the war martyrs, like the waves in the ocean will never stop,” Quang said.

All the delegates paid tributes to Gạc Ma fallen soldiers with incense and wreaths. Each of them held a flower and an origami bird to offer to the sea as a prayer for the soldiers and gratitude for their sacrifices.

As the trip went on, a similar ceremony was held to commemorate the martyrs who died on duty at Việt Nam’s oil rig cluster DK1.

The cluster DK1 included 20 platforms built on the coral foundation, tens of metres under the ocean on the continental shelf off Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province. It was constructed in 1989 for scientific research, oil exploration, hydrometeorology and for protection of national sovereignty. It has also served as a food, water and fuel supplier for Vietnamese ships.

Speaking at the memorial ceremony near Platform DK1/7, or Platform Huyền Trân, Rear Admiral Quang recalled the severe weather conditions facing the soldiers and engineers who guard the platforms.

 Fierce storms devastated the platforms and claimed the lives of a number of officers and soldiers in the 1990s.

Recalling the deaths of six officers and soldiers who tried to protect the platforms DK1/3 Phúc Tần and DK1/6 Phúc Nguyên during historic storms in 1990 and 1998, Rear Admiral Quang said: “Their sacrifices are the embodiment of the spirit of courage and pride of Vietnamese people.”

 In an exclusive interview with Việt Nam News the next day, Colonel Vũ Viết Lịch, said he could not stop the tears falling down his face at the ceremony as he was visiting the place one of his comrades died on duty before.

“I witnessed him die during the storm but I couldn’t do anything. At that time, his wife just gave birth to a baby but he couldn’t see his son,” he said, full of emotion.

Hoàng Ngọc Cường, an officer from the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, said he was so moved attending the trip to Trường Sa and DK1 cluster, especially attending the memorial ceremonies for the fallen soldiers.

“Seeing the seas and the islands under Việt Nam’s sovereignty with my own eyes, I realise that they are part of the flesh and blood of the Vietnamese people,” he said.

“The ceremonies have taught us how much blood, sweat and tears of many generations have poured down to establish, manage and protect our territorial waters in the East Sea,” he said. VNS


 

GLOSSARY

Memorial ceremonies are always emotional.

Memorial ceremonies are ceremonies that are held to remember people who have died.

Emotional means to do with one’s emotions, which are strong feelings that are brought about by some sort of experience.

And the emotions are sure to bubble up in a stronger and more special way when the ceremonies take place at spots where the martyrs spent their final minutes.

A martyr is someone who dies for a cause.

A person’s final minutes are their last moments before they die.

For many travellers who are lucky enough to visit Việt Nam’s territorial waters in Trường Sa (Spratly) islands, its surrounding area and southern continental shelf, attending the two special memorial ceremonies commemorating naval soldiers who died to protect the nation’s maritime sovereignty would surely stir different emotions.

A surrounding area is the area around a place.

Continents sit on platforms called continental shelves that sometimes go out to sea, creating a shallow sea between the shore of a continent and a sudden drop into the deep sea.

To commemorate means to remember something and show respect towards it.

Naval soldiers are soldiers who are in the navy. A navy is a section of the armed forces that is specialised to operate out at sea, especially on ships.

Maritime sovereignty is a country’s right to own and rule the sea around its shores.

Grief and sadness are generally the foremost, but above all, feelings of pride and patriotism would be named.

Grief means suffering from a loss.

Foremost means first.

Patriotism means loyalty towards one’s country.

On the Spratlys, a memorial service to commemorate 64 naval soldiers who died with honour while fighting to protect Việt Nam's Gạc Ma (Johnson South) Reef from Chinese invaders in 1988 is normally held when the cruise reaches the sea area among Gạc Ma, Cô Lin (Collins) Reef and Len Đao (Lansdowne) Reef.

Invaders are people from one country that come to try and take over another country. 

Here, 64 soldiers of Navy Engineering Regiment 83 bravely sacrificed their lives on March 14, 1988 as they were attacked by six Chinese frigates.

To make a sacrifice means to give up something for the sake of someone else, or for the sake of a cause.

A frigate is a type of navy ship.

Speaking at a ceremony late last month, Rear Admiral Phạm Văn Quang, deputy head of the Political Department under the High Command of Việt Nam People’s Navy, emphasised to nearly 200 delegates the heroic sacrifices of the fallen soldiers.

Emphasised means stressed.

“In the country’s thousand-year history, the islands and the seas are always a sacred part that cannot be separated from Việt Nam,” he said.

Sacred means holy.

“With sweat, blood and even lives, generations of Vietnamese people have established, managed and firmly protected the sovereignty in the East Sea, as well as Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa archipelagoes.”

Archipelagoes are groups of islands.

“In protecting the country’s sovereignty, many officers and men, even though they were aware of the dangers, were not afraid and decided not to step back, bravely and fiercely accept sacrifices to protect the national seas and islands to their last breaths.”

To be aware of something means to know about it.

Tears of delegates fell when Quang recalled the story of Lieutenant Trần Văn Phương, who sacrificed himself to protect the national flag on Gạc Ma Reef with the immortal saying: “I would rather die than to lose the island.”

Delegates are people who attend an official function, or meeting.

Something that is immortal never dies.

The Rear Admiral also recalled the heroic story of Colonel Vũ Huy Lễ, the captain of Việt Nam’s navy ship HQ505, who, in the decisive moment, drove the ship straight on shore of Cô Lin Reef, making it a live marker of national sovereignty so the island was kept.

A decisive moment is a time when a decision needs to make.

“More than 30 years have passed, but the memory and pain from that battle will never fade.

Fade means disappear.

All the delegates paid tributes to Gạc Ma fallen soldiers with incense and wreaths.

To pay tribute to someone means to do something that shows that you have great respect for someone.

Each of them held a flower and an origami bird to offer to the sea as a prayer for the soldiers and gratitude for their sacrifices.

Origami is a kind of art that involves folding paper.

Gratitude means thankfulness.

As the trip went on, a similar ceremony was held to commemorate the martyrs who died on duty at Việt Nam’s oil rig cluster DK1.

 

An oil rig cluster is a group of oil rigs. Oil rigs are platforms that stand in the sea that have drills on them that pull oil up from under the bottom of the sea.

The cluster DK1 included 20 platforms built on the coral foundation, tens of metres under the ocean on the continental shelf off Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province.

A coral foundation is a place on which something is built. In this case it is made from coral, which a type of reef out at sea made of lots of creatures called corals, both alive and dead.

It was constructed in 1989 for scientific research, oil exploration, hydrometeorology and for protection of national sovereignty.

Constructed means built.

Scientific research means efforts to try to find out more about something that is to do with science.

Oil exploration means looking for oil.

Hydrometeorology is the part of studying the weather that is to do with water and energy moving between the surface of sea and the part of the air that is closest to the Earth’s surface.

Speaking at the memorial ceremony near Platform DK1/7, or Platform Huyền Trân, Rear Admiral Quang recalled the severe weather conditions facing the soldiers and engineers who guard the platforms.

Severe means extreme.

Fierce storms devastated the platforms and claimed the lives of a number of officers and soldiers in the 1990s.

Devastated means ruined.

Claimed the lives means “killed”.

Recalling the deaths of six officers and soldiers who tried to protect the platforms DK1/3 Phúc Tần and DK1/6 Phúc Nguyên during historic storms in 1990 and 1998, Rear Admiral Quang said: “Their sacrifices are the embodiment of the spirit of courage and pride of Vietnamese people.”

An embodiment is a symbol.

In an exclusive interview with Việt Nam News the next day, Colonel Vũ Viết Lịch, said he could not stop the tears falling down his face at the ceremony as he was visiting the place one of his comrades died on duty before.

An exclusive interview is an interview that is given to only one publication and not to others.

Comrades are fellow fighters.

Hoàng Ngọc Cường, an officer from the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, said he was so moved attending the trip to Trường Sa and DK1 cluster, especially attending the memorial ceremonies for the fallen soldiers.

To be moved, in this case, means to be affected emotionally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. A word that describes the type of soldiers who are remembered for having died in 1988.
  2. Another name for the Trường Sa islands.
  3. A word that describes soldiers who died while fighting.
  4. Something that flies on top of a pole, which Lieutenant Trần Văn Phương sacrificed his life to protect.
  5. Dramatic weather events that happened in 1990 and eight years after that.

 

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ANSWERS: 1. Naval; 2. Spratly; 3. Fallen; 4. Flag; 5. Storms. 

 

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