A parade with Vietnamese flags. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
A parade with Vietnamese flags. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

With the commemoration of the Fall of Saigon days way, the organizers of the event have announced the new site for the ceremony, Bolsa Grande High School in Garden Grove.

The original plan was to hold the commemoration at Camp Pendleton, the site where 50,000 Vietnamese refugees first stayed in Southern California, but that plan was scrapped because of a federal law that prohibits the flying of the flags and national anthems of countries not recognized by the United States.

At the new site, the flag of the former Republic of Vietnam and national anthem will be on display and sung.

“It breaks my heart that we couldn’t hold the event at Camp Pendleton,” said Sophie Tran, spokeswoman for the organizing committee.

When the news broke that the flag of South Vietnam could not be flown on base, several Vietnamese community groups withdrew their support, Tran said.

“We could not hold the event without their support,” she said.

The organizers had two other locations in mind, but ultimately chose Bolsa Grande High School because of its relative ease in getting the necessary permits. The Bolsa Grande site is well known in the Vietnamese community. It was the site of the annual Tet Festival before it moved to Costa Mesa. It is also the site of the annual “Cam On Anh (Thank You, Soldiers)” concert, raising funds for disabled South Vietnamese Veterans still living in Vietnam.

The commemoration will also be scaled down from the original plan. There will no longer be a recreation of the tent city where many refugees stayed, instead there will be a candlelight vigil.

Additionally, the event will consist of exhibits that will display memoirs and historical artifacts that show the journey to freedom of Vietnamese refugees as well as display the accomplishments and achievements of Vietnamese Americans in the last 40 years.

The event will be held from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.

— Alexander Nguyen, MyNewsLA.com

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