A tank model (about 25cmx12cm) by Ky Lam
Stores in HCM City find different ways of addressing the past ahead of the 30th anniversary of Vietnam’s reunification.
Phan Le Lam Son was four when the Liberation Army’s two T-54 tanks crashed through the gates of what is now the Reunification Palace in the center of Saigon at 10:45 a.m. on April 30, 1975.
But though he was too young at that time to remember the momentous event that led to Vietnam’s reunification, collecting material and learning about the People’s Army became his hobby.
And he decided that on the 30th anniversary of the “great victory” he would pay tribute to the soldiers whose sacrifices, he says, should be honored more often. So since January his District 5 company Ky Lam, which develops land and deals in militaristic plastic toys, has been making poly-resin models of one of the tanks that liberated Saigon.
Son wants to sell the model tank number 390 to remind people not of the war, but of the peace the reunification brought with it after such a long struggle.
“So I think this is a beautiful sign for Vietnam,” he says. “It’s not only tanks and guns, but it makes people feel peace has come.”
Son hopes the Government and the People’s Army will buy the collector’s item, which comes on a wooden base in a transparent
The real tank at the Reunification Palace
case, to gift to Vietnamese war veterans. So far he has sold only a few dozen.
In HCM City the models are for sale for US$35 at the War Remnants Museum at 28 Vo Van Tan Street and Xuan Thu Bookstore at 185 Dong Khoi Street in District 1, and the Cu Chi Tunnel Museum.
But, Son says, he does not produce the tanks for profit. They should be seen in context, in a museum or so, and are “not suitable for normal souvenir stores,” where tourists might misunderstand their message. The edition is limited, with Ky Lam’s four new employees hand-making only some 1,000.
Son seems to be one of the few who are already planning for April 30. Most souvenir stores in downtown HCM City will not offer any special items, and a very few said they might bring out something closer to the day.