It was a final send-off fit for one of the 20th century’s most important military commanders.
Appropriately, soldiers accompanied Vietnam’s independence icon General Giap as he began his last journey, placing his coffin on a gun carriage.
He had lain in state in Hanoi, having died aged 102.
The general’s body was being flown to his home region for burial. And, en route to the airport, hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of Hanoi for an emotional, ultimate glimpse at the man who masterminded military victories over colonial power France and over the Americans.
“I was deeply moved when General Giap’s coffin passed in front of me and I cried,” said one of the onlookers, Pham Cong Truong, 65. “He was a talented general who brought a lot to the country and to the people and it is thanks to him that Vietnam is as it is today. I am deeply grateful for what he did and I will never forget him and will follow his example.”
The Communist elite has pulled out all the stops with a two-day state funeral fostering national unity. It has neglected to dwell on the fact that, towards the end of his life, General Giap was sidelined by the party.