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Vietnamese move commemoration to Little Saigon after flag barred from base

The yellow- and red-striped flag that belonged to South Vietnam before it fell to the communists is still widely used by Vietnamese immigrants at community celebrations in Southern California.
The yellow- and red-striped flag that belonged to South Vietnam before it fell to the communists is still widely used by Vietnamese immigrants at community celebrations in Southern California.
Photo by InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr Creative Commons

Vietnamese Americans scrapped plans to mark the 40th anniversary of the fall of a Saigon at a Southern California Marine base after learning they could not fly the South Vietnamese flag.

The commemoration expected to draw thousands on April 25 will be moved to a new location in Orange County's Little Saigon, where community members can use the yellow- and red-striped flag and play the South Vietnamese anthem, said Sophie Tran, an event spokeswoman.

"We know without those two things, our event would completely lose its meaning," Tran said Friday. "The event is for the community, and we need to think about them first."

The shift comes as the country's 1.7 million Vietnamese Americans prepare to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the fall of South Vietnam to communist rule. Thousands fled the country for the United States, with many arriving at a refugee camp erected at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Southern California.

The flag that belonged to South Vietnam before it fell to the communists is still widely used by Vietnamese immigrants at community celebrations in the region.

Jason Johnston, a Camp Pendleton spokesman, said officials at Marine headquarters told the base that the flag cannot be flown at federal installations because the U.S. government can only recognize the current government of Vietnam.

"We at Camp Pendleton certainly understand their concerns, but ultimately we have to rely on our rules and regulations," he said.