As Americans celebrate Christmas this week, Vietnam's government is hoping to animate patriotic sentiment with a grim 40th anniversary remembrance of the U.S.-Vietnam War's most horrific aerial blitz.
For Americans, there's nothing to celebrate about the "Christmas Bombings," a 12-day wave of Dresden-style carpet bombing over Vietnam's communist north. More than 1,600 civilians were killed in short order. As the killings commenced, the New York Times denounced President Richard Nixon's "Stone Age barbarism."
Despite the horrific casualties, Vietnamese can at least take pride in the felling of more than a dozen U.S. aircraft and the fact that, soon thereafter, the U.S. withdrew from their country.
This week, as Agence France Presse reports, the government has decorated Hanoi with posters of flaming B-52s plummeting to the earth. But does a war victory from four decades back still resonate with the Vietnamese public? This AFP article suggests that they'd rather see the government revive the nation's flailing economy than stoke nostalgia over war victories in the 1970s.
As an ex-soldier and former Vietnamese state official told the news outlet, "The government should spend less time and money on celebrating historic events and pay more attention to improving people's lives."