Landmark affirming Truong Sa sovereignty
To veteran Tran Van Xuat, the three years living and fighting on Truong Sa Dong Island, in the Truong Sa Archipelago in Khanh Hoa province, was the finest and the most memorable time of his life.
It was his love for his comrades and the nation’s sea and islands that encouraged him to build a replica of the marker affirming national sovereignty of Truong Sa, right in his house to remember the time he lived on the country’s sacred land.
Tran Van Xuat was born in 1964. He lived in Hoa Hai ward, Ngu Hanh Son district, in the central city of Da Nang. In 1984, like many other young people, he joined the army and was assigned to Truong Sa Dong Island in the Truong Sa Archipelago. Coming from a fishing family, he quickly adapted himself to living on the island. He gradually won the confidence of his superiors and was assigned in charge of squad DKZ75.
After completing his military service, Xuat returned home to Non Nuoc, which is famous for stone carving, in 1986. With the determination of a veteran who used to live in one of the most dangerous areas in the country, he started to explore the potential of stones and developed his stone art works from a household business to a large-scale exporting enterprise. Most of the workers there are war veterans or the family members of war veterans.
Although busy with his business, Xuat still thinks about his former comrades. He said when he visited Cam Ranh bay in Khanh Hoa province and looked out over the sea, he missed his comrades very much. He told himself that he had to find his comrades who used to live and fight together on Truong Sa Dong Island.
“There were 31 people in the island at that time. After fulfilling our military service, we did not have the chance to get in touch with each other due to having to earn a living. It’s the stories that we shared with each other when we were still in the army that gave me some clue to find out the addresses of my former comrades,” he said. Between 2005-2009, Xuat travelled from the north to the south of the country and found 25 former comrades.
According to Xuat, the idea of building the sacred marker came from his desire to find his comrades again.
“By 2009, there were still six comrades that I could not find. I came up with the idea to build the Truong Sa sovereignty marker in my house with the hope of finding the rest of my former comrades,” he said.
Right after its completion, the replica of the Truong Sa marker attracted lots of attention from local people and visitors and his dream came true when he was able to ask about his former comrades through his talks with visitors.
The Truong Sa sovereign marker built in Da Nang (Photo: PV/Vietnam+)
Perhaps Xuat is the first Truong Sa soldier to build a Truong Sa sovereignty marker in his house. He built it in 2009, modeling on the marker on Truong Sa Archipelago, at a cost of nearly 200 million VND. The marker was erected at the site where stone art works are on display beside the Truong Sa road along the beach. Two poison fish trees stand on the two sides, which a friend brought from Truong Sa Lon island to Xuat as a gift.
The marker, going way beyond its initial objective, has become an image to raise patriotism amongst the younger generations in Da Nang City. Xuat said: “Sometimes, groups of students visit my stone art work and get very excited when they see the marker with their own eyes. No matter how busy I am, I always make time to tell the students about the Truong Sa Archipelago and Truong Sa Dong Island, where I used to live and fight. I feel happy when watching the students take photos near the marker. I also introduce it to foreign visitors and they admire Vietnamese people’s love for their nation.”
As a war veteran and deputy head of a liaison committee for former Truong Sa soldiers in Da Nang city, Xuat has implemented many meaningful activities to help disadvantaged comrades.
Xuat has four children and his second son has joined the army and is now based in naval military zone 3.
He said: “I am happy to see that my son is serving in the navy. I contact him regularly to share his thoughts. We are proud of being ‘Uncle Ho’s soldiers’ and being stationed on the Truong Sa archipelago. My comrades and I constantly remind each other to educate future generations of our love for the nation’s seas and islands”./.