Thousands of people from all corners of the country have flocked to the house of General Vo Nguyen Giap in Hanoi to pay their last respects to Vietnam’s military mastermind, who passed away on October 4 at the age of 103.

Upon hearing the news, many people travelled from far and wide to visit the house at 30 Hoang Dieu Street, Hanoi. Great numbers arrived on October 5 and remained overnight, standing vigil and bowing their heads in memory of the man who led the army to end more than 70 years of French colonial rule in Indochina.

Mourners of all ages and from all walks of life gathered with bouquets in their hands and silently stood in line. At 2.30 pm on October 6, they were admitted to the house and place flowers and other offerings before an altar dedicated to the General.

When, at one point, the melody of the “Hon Tu Si” (the Martyrs’ Soul) was solemnly and spontaneously performed by street violinist Ta Tri Hai, few in attendance could hold back their tears.

Luu Hong Anh from Hanoi’s Hoang Mai district said that the image of General Giap became very close to her following stories told by her grandfather, who had fought under the General. “I felt stunned when I heard the news that he had passed away. It was the same feeling I had when I heard of the death of my grandfather,” she confided.

Away on a working trip in Ho Chi Minh City, yet Anh tried to take a late night flight back to the capital on October 5 to offer her condolences to the General’s family.

Hoang Tuong, a Tay ethnic man from Phong Binh district in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, spent nearly a day travelling on a bus to Hanoi to pay his tribute. “I am very sad at the passing away of General Giap,” he said sorrowfully. “Despite the distance, I must come here to commemorate him.”

In the long line of people present, there were a number of foreigners, including two Indians. They said they had learnt about General Giap while they were journeying through Vietnam. They said that from what they had heard, he was a great leader who devoted his life to the cause of national freedom and was an inspiration to the Vietnamese people.

Also present at the General’s house was Lieut. Gen. Dong Sy Nguyen. He said that people across Vietnam are suffering great anguish at the death of General Giap, whose life and achievements will never be forgotten.

People will be allowed to commemorate General Vo Nguyen Giap at the house until October 11. Visiting hours are from 8-11.30 am and 2-4 pm.-VNA