Whenever March comes, people across Vietnam turn their hearts to Gac Ma Reef of Truong Sa archipelago, a sacred territorial part of the Fatherland, to pay tribute to officers and soldiers who heroically fought until their last breath for the country’s maritime sovereignty.
The March 14, 1988 event, which was associated with Gac Ma, Co Lin, and Len Dao reefs, has become immortal in the struggle for independence and freedom of Vietnam.
In the mainland, a memorial site for the Gac Ma officers and soldiers was inaugurated in July 2017 in Cam Hai Dong commune of central Khanh Hoa province’s Cam Lam district. It is dedicated to the 64 naval officers and soldiers of Vietnam who bravely sacrificed their lives at the dawn of March 14, 1988.
Themed “Those who falling on the horizon”, the site’s highlight is the “Immortal Circle” symbol commemorating the Gac Ma soldiers.
The area is a place for people to not only pay homage to the heroes but also remind and educate younger generations about the heart-rending event in Vietnam’s history.
On the country’s sovereign waters, Sinh Ton island houses a pagoda with a stele featuring the names of the 64 persons laying down their lives at sea 33 years ago. Since the beginning of March, a large number of officers, soldiers, residents in Truong Sa township, and fishermen working nearby have come to offer incense and pray to the martyrs.
The pagoda holds a requiem for the heroes in front of the stele every March 14. Apart from this date, Sinh Ton islanders also visit the pagoda on the first and 15th days of each lunar month, as well as traditional festivals to commemorate the martyrs and pray for the country’s peace and development.
The commemoration in March is a demonstration of Vietnamese people’s tradition of expressing gratitude to those falling down for the sake of the country’s maritime sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also illustrates the people’s thousands-of-years unanimity and resolve to safeguard the Fatherland.
Nowadays, the officers and soldiers performing duties on the islands, reefs, and platforms on the country’s territorial waters are following former generations’ example, staying ready to sacrifice their lives to firmly defend the maritime sovereignty and be trustworthy supports for people at sea.