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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 May, 2005, 00:45 GMT 01:45 UK
US Vietnam vets mark anniversary
A veteran of the US-backed south Vietnam forces
Veterans paid tribute to their fallen comrades
Vietnam War veterans have held a commemoration in Washington DC to mark the 30th anniversary of fall of Saigon and the end of the war.

Decked in military regalia, they took part in an official wreath-laying ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial.

Former soldiers and their families listened to patriotic songs and placed mementos on the rain-swept monument.

They paid tribute to their comrades who died before the North Vietnamese communists entered Saigon in 1975.

'Communist stigma'

The event, organised by the Assembly of Veterans of the former southern Republic of Vietnam, was colourful despite the rain, say correspondents.

The veterans were joined by officials from the US department of veterans affairs and members of Congress.

An estimated one million Vietnamese Americans took part in events across the US marking the fall of Saigon, under the slogan "Remembering the past, shaping the future".

Despite years of living in the US, some say they still nurture a desire to see families left behind but are weary their return could be seen as an endorsement of the communist government.

"The worst thing for anybody, even after 30 years, is to be called a pro-communist," local community leader Hung Nguyen, from Falls Church, Virginia, told news agency Reuters.

On April 30, 1975, communist tanks entered Saigon, now called Ho Minh City, signalling the end of the southern Republic of Vietnam.

The city's fall also marked the official end of the war, which claimed some 58,000 American lives and an estimated three million Vietnamese.

On Saturday parades were held in Ho Chi Minh City to mark the end of the war on what is known in Vietnam as Liberation Day.

Watch archive footage from the Vietnam War


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