New museum to honor Hoang Sa-Truong Sa martyrs

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A new museum detailing the history and culture of the Vietnamese Navy's Hoang Sa-Truong Sa Fleet, which has selflessly defended the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands from invaders for hundreds of years, opened on Ly Son Island in the central province of Quang Ngai on April 19.

The museum, called the Historical Complex of Vietnamese Navy's Hoang Sa-Truong Sa Fleet, includes a vast collection of historical documents detailing the history of the commanders, captains and sailors who have filled the ranks of the fleet over the years. The museum also contains the empty tombs of sailors whose bodies could not be recovered after dying in battle.

The nearby An Vinh Temple, built by the people of Ly Son to worship the fallen sailors of the Navy fleet that has acted as their protector, has been refurbished for the museum's opening. Traditionally, enlistees in the Hoang Sa-Truong Sa Fleet have been disproportionally from Ly Son, which is 200km from the Hoang Sa Archipelago. The fleet was founded in the 17th century. Outside the museum stands a 4- meter statue of the fleet's captains.

The An Vinh Temple, also called the An Vinh Communal House, has historically been a place where communities gather for feasts and well-wishing parties before Ly Son residents set off as sailors and soldiers with the fleet.

A ceremony to commemorate the soldiers and sailors of the Hoang Sa-Truong Sa Fleet will be held from April 28-29 (the 15th and 16th days of the third lunar month).

The ceremony, which is held annually in the second or third lunar month, is a spiritual activity in which the people of Ly Son Island express their gratitude for their ancestors who sailed across the East Sea hundreds of years ago to defend the country's Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos against pirates and foreign invaders.

At the museum's inauguration ceremony on April 19, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism awarded a certificate of merit to the Dang family, Ly Son residents who have for decades preserved valuable historical documents concerning Vietnam's sovereignty of the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos for over 175 years through six generations.

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