(REUTERS) – Vietnam on Thursday (April 30) commemorated the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, an event which marked the end of the Vietnam War that plagued the country for over three decades.
A military parade took place in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, which was formerly known as Saigon.
Ho Chi Minh was named after the leader of North Vietnam upon reunification.
Some 6,000 children, women, veterans and soldiers marched towards the Presidential Palace — known also as the Independence Palace and the Reunification Palace — in a reenactment of the event which saw North Vietnamese tanks crash through the gates on April 30, 1975.
The fall of Saigon not only marked the end of the war, but also the decade-long U.S. involvement in Vietnam, an effort intended to stop communism from spreading through the region.
Thursday’s celebration featured patriotic songs and re-enactment dances. Most of the spectators were war veterans, communist party members, and other member of the ruling party.
Also present were people who had documented the deadly war, which was the first of its kind to have traumatic war photographs featured on the front-page of newspapers, and violent video footage become a nightly feature on news channels, shocking international viewers unaware of the horrors of war.
“It’s good to see Vietnam becoming robust, becoming strong, organised. I want to see the corruption gone,” said Tim Page, a former Vietnam War photographer.
Estimates of casualties during the Vietnam War vary widely but reach into the millions. The Vietnamese government has said it claimed the lives of up to 4 million people, while the U.S. Defense Ministry has said 58,000 U.S. troops were killed.
The war itself is remembered for having an extremely high percentage of civilian deaths.
The 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon also coincides with Vietnam and the U.S. celebrating 20 years of diplomatic relations.