Funeral services, attended by 250,000 mourners, are held for Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square. Among those in attendance were Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin, Chinese Vice-Premier Li Hsien-nien and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. Ho had established the Indochinese Communist Party in 1929. In September 1945, as the defeated Japanese prepared to leave Vietnam, Ho declared Vietnamese independence from French colonial rule and announced the formation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The French, attempting to reimpose colonial rule, soon clashed with Ho and his Viet Minh forces.
After a bloody nine-year war, the French were finally driven from the country after they suffered a humiliating defeat by the Viet Minh at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. The Geneva Accords subsequently divided Vietnam into two countries. Ho then led a battle to reunite Vietnam under communist rule. When the United States intervened militarily, Ho directed his forces in a protracted war against the Americans and the Saigon regime. He served as the spiritual leader of the North Vietnamese people, exhorting them to continue the struggle until the Americans were defeated and Vietnam was reunited as one nation. His death resulted in a tremendous emotional outpouring and his successors used the life and teachings of “Uncle Ho” to motivate the people to continue the fight. Today, he is enshrined in central Hanoi in a public mausoleum that attracts thousands of visitors every year.