Vietnam province plans tribute to island heroes

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Quang Ngai Province authorities are planning to hold a ceremony in April in memory of the soldiers and sailors who have protected Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratlys) Archipelagoes over the centuries.

The ceremony, held for many years at the district and commune levels, will be held at the provincial level for the first time at the instance of the ministries of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Foreign Affairs.

It will be held on Ly Son Islands, a group of three small islands about 15 nautical miles off the Quang Ngai coast.

It will feature many events on the densely-inhabited main island, including at the historical complex commemorating the Hoang Sa-Truong Sa Fleet and An Vinh Temple, built by locals to worship fallen soldiers as their protectors.

There will be a ceremony to worship the Four Symbols, a requiem for deceased members of the fleet, a boat race, and others sports and performances.

The descendants of many of the soldiers will take part in the event.

The opening ceremony will be broadcast live by Quang Ngai Television Station on April 27.

Traditionally, enlistees to the Hoang Sa-Truong Sa Fleet were from Ly Son, 200km from Hoang Sa.

The fleet was first created in the 17th century and operated for around 300 years.

The An Vinh Temple, also called the An Vinh Communal House, has historically been a place where the community gathers for feasts and farewell parties for departing sailors and soldiers.

The ceremony, held every year in the second or third lunar month, sees the people of Ly Son express their gratitude to ancestors who sailed across the East Sea hundreds of years ago to defend Hoang Sa and Truong Sa against pirates and foreign invaders.

Several families on the islands have been awarded certificates of merit for preserving valuable historical documents showing Vietnam's sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

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