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Cu Chi Tunnel Relic Site - an “ideal destination” for defence and security education

Bringing into play historic sites of national construction and protection for education of national tradition is an important part of defence and security education. With its military historical values as a symbol of the indomitable spirit of the people from the “iron land,” Cu Chi tunnel network is a “perfect destination” to provide defence and security education.

Cu Chi Tunnels - the heroic iron land

Located in the district of Cu Chi, about 70km from the city of Ho Chi Minh, Cu Chi Tunnels had been constructed in the resistance war against French colonialists (about in 1948). Since 1961, when the Party Committee and Command of the Saigon - Gia Dinh Military Region selected Cu Chi as their base, the tunnel network was developed rapidly. With the indomitable, resilient, creative spirit, the military and people of Cu Chi managed to build a system of tunnels with a combined length of over 200km and numerous inter-connected works, such as combat trench, depot, workplace, and accommodation. The system of multi-layer underground tunnels is bomb-resistant and could withstand the weight of tanks and armoured vehicles. Within the tunnels, there are block points at sensitive spots to prevent enemy troops or toxic chemicals together with spike holes and traps. Many tunnel doors were flexibly transformed into combat points and sniper emplacements. Together with about 500 kilometres of combat trench and mine ground, Cu Chi was a legendary iron land in our resistance wars against foreign invaders. To erase this revolutionary base, the U.S. force and the Army of Saigon conducted more than 4,000 mop-up campaigns with a large number of modern weapons and means of war, about 500,000 tons of bombs and ammunition, and 480 tons of toxic chemicals of various types. Grounded on the system of tunnels, the military and people of Cu Chi resiliently held on to the land and adopted tactics of sniping and raiding against the enemy. Bringing into play the synergy of the people’s war with the three-pronged (military, political, and enemy agitprop) spearhead, they achieved brilliant feats of arms and were presented with many noble awards by the State. With its historical values, like a underground stronghold and a wonder of the Vietnamese unique military art, Cu Chi Tunnels express the indomitable spirit of the people of the “iron land” and become a famous landmark in the world and an “ideal destination” providing defence and security education for citizens and the armed forces.

A “perfect destination” for defence and security education

After the South had been liberated, the Municipal Party Committee, People’s Committee, and Military Command of Ho Chi Minh advocated preserving and restoring the Cu Chi Tunnel Network for propagation and education of revolutionary tradition as well as for tourism development. The Cu Chi Tunnel Relic Site includes Ben Duoc Tunnel (the base of the Party Committee of the Saigon - Gia Dinh Military Region) and Ben Dinh Tunnel (the base of the Party Committee of Cu Chi district), etc. together with a core zone of over 80 hectare. In 1994, the Municipal People’s Committee assigned the Municipal Military Command to manage “the Cu Chi Tunnel Relic Site.” Under the leadership and direction from the Municipal Party Committee and People’s Committee, particularly the Municipal Military Party Committee and Command, the Relic Site’s historical, cultural values and scale have been unceasingly developed to become an indispensable destination within a defence and security education programme and a place for propagation and education of Vietnamese patriotism.

Cadres from the Army Academy visiting the Relic Site

In order that the Relic Site will always be an ideal destination for defence and security education, the Relic Site’s Party Committee and Board of Directors have taken various measures to preserve, restore and build facilities and raise the quality of service. First of all, emphasis has been placed on building high-quality human resources. Staff members of the Relic Site are recruited within the locality, with priority given to offspring of beneficiaries. The Relic Site’s Party Committee and Board of Directors have always concentrated on training, cultivating, and using human resources to meet the task requirements in both long and short terms. Managerial cadres and excellent staff members have been deployed to cultural and military training schools of the City and the Military Region 7 as well as tourism colleges so that they could improve their skills in management, restoration, foreign languages, and presentation to serve both domestic and foreign visitors. Besides, staff members’ knowledge of local revolutionary tradition and the Relic Site’s history as well as their professional skills have been regularly bettered. Due regard has been paid to ensuring cadres and employees’ material and mental life to enable them to keep their mind on their work.

Consideration has been given to introducing and promoting the Relic Site’s image. The Board of Directors has directed the Business Planning Division to frequently post the Relic Site’s photos and operations on mass media and social networks, such as Website, Facebook, and Zalo. The Relic Site has been promoted on Hello Vietnam, a publication of Tourism Magazine, Vietnam Travel Atlas (the General Department of Tourism), Military Literature Magazine, and Vietnam Travel Guide Book. It has also cooperated with HTV7, VTVC, and VTV24 television channels and the Viewfinder Company in producing advertisements for itself. It has proactively collaborated with units, localities, mass organisations, unions, and enterprises in organising conferences, festivals and ceremonies in order to educate national tradition and spirit of self-reliance and courage during wars against invaders and arouse the aspirations for building a prosperous, beautiful nation.

Due attention has been paid to bringing into play the value of historical artifacts to create highlights and interaction with visitors. In the middle of the Cu Chi Tunnels is the Ben Duoc Memorial Temple commemorating more than 45,000 martyrs from various regions of the country who fought in Saigon - Gia Dinh and those who had grown up in Saigon - Gia Dinh and then sacrificed their life nationwide. The Memorial Temple is a harmonious complex with many unique structures deeply imbued with Vietnamese cultural identity. This is a place for holding refresher courses, new party member and youth union member initiation ceremonies, and communal cultural and spiritual meetings. The Cu Chi Liberated Zone vividly reproduces the space and daily life of a combat village within the Zone from 1961 to 1975. Tourists could watch 3D movies imitating the Operation Cedar Falls - the largest-scale mop-up campaign against the “Iron Triangle” in 1967, visit the system of tunnels, experience the underground life, and weave themselves into the atmosphere of this land in the resistance war for national salvation. Visiting the Relic Site, tourists could feel sympathy for the land suffering from the war as well as the patriotism, courage, and knowledge of the military and people of Cu Chi in the fight against foreign invaders to protect their hometown.

Significance has been attached to raising the quality of service and applying scientific-technological advances to managing the Relic Site and educating generations of people, particularly the youth in the locality and across the country on patriotism as a determinant to turning the Relic Site into a “perfect destination” for defence and security education. The Board of Directors has focused on receiving and serving tourist groups, delegations, and attendees at refresher courses and scientific conferences, especially expatriate Vietnamese visitors. At the same time, it has required all staff members to dedicate themselves to serving visitors in a friendly, polite manner and act as masters of the tunnels who had directly fought the enemy to protect the revolution and the hometown with an inter-connected posture within the tunnels. In order to enable compatriots, especially the youth to thoroughly comprehend the Cu Chi Tunnels as a unique revolutionary base in the world, the Board of Directors has invited war veterans in this land to deliver speeches and answer questions about the process of construction and combat in the extremely difficult and fierce condition, thereby arousing the heroic tradition and combat morale of the military and people of Cu Chi amongst citizens across the country. Additionally, it has adopted various forms of propagation and education for tourists and delegations to refresher courses and conferences, while applying information technology to managing and restoring the Relic Site and making presentations on the architectural and military values of the tunnels. Thanks to those efforts, the number of tourists and attendees at refresher courses and conferences, particularly students in the locality and neighbouring provinces to the Cu Chi Tunnels has been unceasingly increased.

On the path towards a World Heritage

It could be said that the Cu Chi Tunnel Relic Site is a typical military construction and historical reminder; it is also an ideal destination to provide defence and security education for all people, particularly the youth. To preserve and restore the Relic Site, on December 23rd, 2015, the Prime Minister issued the Decision 2367/QĐ-TTg on recognising the Cu Chi Tunnels as a Special National Relic. Currently, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the Ministry of National Defence, and the Municipal People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh are directing competent offices to work on a dossier and submit it to the UNESCO to allow the Relic Site to join the list of world heritages. This is a good opportunity to preserve and develop the Cu Chi Tunnel Relic Site to a new height so that it will always be a “perfect destination” for education of revolutionary tradition.

Sr. Col. LE VAN PHUOC, Director of the Relic Site

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