118 year old woman lost 7 sons in freedom struggle

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She turns 119 in 2011, but Tran Thi Viet's memores of events and people she has met over three centuries (19th, 20th and 21st) is still clear.

 

It is not just her age that makes Viet, named the oldest Vietnamese by the Vietnam Records Book Center this month, stand out.

 

The centurion with nearly 500 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, is one of the country's greatest Heroic Mothers, with seven of her children dying battling French and American occupations.

 

Viet, a native of the southern province of Long An, said she got married when she was 21 and gave birth to ten children, including eight sons.

 

As the mother herself was illiterate and their family was too poor to afford tuition fees, all of children received very little formal education.

 

But they were aware of what they wanted to do when seeing their fellow country men killed and their villages destroyed by foreign powers.

 

All of her sons joined the Vietnamese forces to fight against occupations, and seven of them sacrificed their lives for the country.

 

In 1953, her eldest son, 37-year-old Nguyen Van Lien, was killed, leaving three children behind.

 

Seven years later another son, Nguyen Van Tao, died on duty, and a year later, her husband died of injuries sustained after joining an attack against the French colonial forces.

 

And in 1962 and 1963, Viet lost two more sons Nguyen Van Kien and Nguyen Van Tri - to the foreign occupation.

 

In 1968, her youngest brother Nguyen Van Dau died in a campaign against the US forces.

 

On the same day in 1973, two more sons died in battle.

 

Losing seven sons to the war, including two whose bodies have never been found, didn't stop the heartbroken mother from going on living, supporting her grandchildren and daughters-in-law who'd lost their husbands.

 

She went fishing and did all kinds of work to earn a living.

 

Now Viet lives with one of her grandsons and his wife in Long An's Ca Gua hamlet.

 

Sometimes culture researchers come to listen to her singing southern lullaby songs which, according to them, can't be found anywhere in books.

 

While it is a great happiness to have so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Viet's grief has never faded away, even after so many years.

 

Nguyen Thi Nguyen, her granddaughter, said: "Many times I've seen grandmother lie in the hammock in tears. When I ask if she is okay, she would be silent for a moment, then say: "˜I miss your father and your uncles'."

 

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