Republic of Vietnam Posterity
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Flag of South VietNam


The flag of South Vietnam was designed by Emperor Thành Thái in 1890[1] and was revived by Emperor Bảo Đại in 1948. It was the flag of the former State of Vietnam (the French-controlled areas in both Northern and Southern Vietnam) from 1949 to 1955 and later of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) from 1955 until April 30, 1975 when the south unconditionally surrendered to the north, to which it was officially joined in a unified Vietnam a year later. The flag consists of a yellow field and three horizontal red stripes and can be explained as either symbolising the unifying blood running through northern, central, and southern Vietnam, or as representing the symbol for "south" (as in, south from China (Viet Nam itself) and also 'nam' meaning south), in Daoist trigrams. It also represents the Trinity[2].

It is still used by many Vietnamese emigrants now living in other countries, mainly because the current Vietnamese flag is considered to be offensive to them, as it's the flag of the current Communist regime - the regime most Overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu) fled from in the late 1970s and 1980s as Boat People.[3] From February 2003 to August 2006, in the United States, 13 states, seven counties and 85 cities have adopted resolutions recognizing the yellow flag as the "Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag".[4][5][6]


During the reign of Emperor
Gia Long (1802–1820), the yellow flag was also used as the symbol of the Empire of Vietnam. This was continued as the Emperor's flag when the Court of Hue became a French protectorate.

In 1890, the Emperor Thành Thái issued a decree, adopting the yellow flag with three red stripes for the first time as the national flag (Đại Nam (National Flag) 1890-1920). Some claim this flag (called The Yellow Flag for short) is the first true "national flag" of the Vietnamese people for it reflects the aspiration and hope of the people, not just the emperors, for independence and unification of the Viet nation.[7][8]

After the deportation and exile of the Emperors Thành Thái and Duy Tân, the new pro-French ruler
Khải Định chose to change the imperial flag, replacing the three strips which signified the three regions of Vietnam (North, Central, and South) with a single horizontal band of red. Formally known as the "Long Tinh", the flag was the official flag of the Nguyễn Court.

In 1945 with the French ousted by Japan, Prime Minister Trần Trọng Kim of the newly restored Empire of Vietnam adopted another variant of the yellow flag. It included three red bands but the middle band was broken to form the Quẻ Ly Flag. Derived from the trigrams, Quẻ Ly is the sixth of the Bát Quái (the Eight Trigrams - (Ba gua) in I Ching): Càn, Khâm, Cấn, Chấn, Tốn, Ly, Khôn, Đoài. It was chosen to symbolize the "fabulous unicorn", the sun, fire, light, and civilization. And most importantly, it represents the southern lands, that is Vietnam. This flag was used briefly from June to August 1945 when Emperor Bảo Đại abdicated

On 2 June 1948, the Chief of the Provisional Central Government of Vietnam, Brigadier General Nguyen Van Xuan, signed the decree with the specifications for the Vietnamese National Flag as follows: "The national emblem is a flag of yellow background, the height of which is equal to two-thirds of its width. In the middle of the flag and along its entire width, there are three horizontal red bands. Each band has a height equal to one-fifteenth of the width. These three red bands are separated from one another by a space of the band's height." When the former Emperor Bảo Đại was made chief of state in 1949, this design was adopted as the flag of the State of Vietnam.

The three red bands have the divination sign of Quẻ Càn (乾), the first of the Eight Trigrams mentioned above. Quẻ Càn represents heaven. Based on the traditional worldview of the Vietnamese people, Quẻ Càn also denotes the South, the Vietnamese Nation, Vietnamese people, and the people's power. Another interpretation places the three red bands as symbols of the three regions of Vietnam: North, Central, and South.

With the foundation of the republic in 1955, the flag was adopted by the successor state, the Republic of Vietnam (more commonly known as South Vietnam). It was the national flag for the entire duration of that state's existence (1955–1975) from the First Republic to the Second Republic. With the capitulation of Saigon on April 30, 1975, the Republic of Vietnam came to an end and the flag ceased to exist as a national symbol.

Political significance

The flag of the former South Vietnam (also used under Emperor Thành Thái) remains highly controversial, particularly in the case of Vietnamese Americans, Vietnamese Australians, and other Vietnamese around the world who fled Vietnam after the war, who call it the "Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag.

In Vietnam at present, the flag is prohibited by law from public display.[citation needed]

In the United States, virtually no Vietnamese Americans use the current flag of Vietnam,[9] which many of them consider offensive. Instead, they use the flag of South Vietnam as their symbol. The same is true for Vietnamese Canadians in Canada, Vietnamese Germans in western Germany, for Vietnamese in the Netherlands, France and Norway, and for Vietnamese Australians in Australia.

  • When a Vietnamese American video tape store owner displayed the current flag of Vietnam and a photo of Ho Chi Minh in front of his store in Westminster, California, in 1999, a month-long protest against it climaxed when 15,000 people held a candlelight vigil one night, sparking the Hitek Incident (Hitek was the name of the store).[10]
  • A faux pas by the United States Postal Service in using the current Vietnamese flag in a brochure to represent the Vietnamese American community that it serves caused outrage among Vietnamese Americans and resulted in an apology.
  • In 2004, many Vietnamese American students at the California State University, Fullerton threatened to walk out on their graduation ceremony when the university chose to use the current flag of Vietnam to represent its Vietnamese students. The Vietnamese American students demanded that the university use the former flag of South Vietnam instead. This resulted in the university scrapping all foreign flags for the ceremony.
  • In 2006, Vietnamese-American students at the University of Texas at Arlington protested against the use of the Vietnamese flag in the Hall of Flags in Nedderman Hall and the exclusion of the South Vietnamese flag at a cultural diversity show during International Week.[11] After weeks of protests, the university decided to scrap all flags from the display.
  • During World Youth Day 2008, tensions flared between the 800 Vietnamese pilgrims who used the flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the 2300 Vietnamese Australians pilgrims who used the Republic of Vietnam flag.[12]
  • In 2008, many protested against Nguoi Viet Daily News, a Vietnamese-language newspaper in Orange County, California, for publishing a photograph of an art installation [13] depicting a foot spa bearing the colors of the flag.[14]
  • The lobbying efforts of Vietnamese Americans resulted in the state governments of Louisiana,[15] California[16] and Ohio[17] to adopt it to symbolize Vietnamese Americans.
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