Long Tan Day is a historic day that honors those who fought and fell at the Battle of Long Tan on August 18 and has nothing to do with soaking up the sun. In 1966, the People’s Army of Vietnam and some members of the 1st Australian Task Force were pinned down and outnumbered by Viet Cong insurgents in a rubber plantation on the outskirts of Long Tan. Both Vietnam and Australia celebrate Long Tan Day on the same day, honoring the bravery and steadfast commitment of the soldiers who held their ground despite the odds.
History of Long Tan Day
The history of the Vietnam War is complex. The tinder was laid as far back as the colonial occupation of Vietnam by the French, and later, conflicts involving Asian states finally boiled over after the rise of communism and the end of World War II. As a colony of France whose neighboring Asian states were gaining independence triumphantly, the Vietnamese people began to long for a sense of national identity and the desire for independence was great.
However, the French enjoyed their hold over the region as it provided them with valuable resources and a military defensive position in the wake of the rise of Communism in China. Many allied nations also realized the strategic importance of keeping Vietnam safely in the bosom of western influence. But for the people of North Vietnam, who recognized the support, and connected with the fundamental notion of Marxist Communism, this was their country, and they wanted it back. Support from China was given swiftly, and in the months that led to the outbreak of the Vietnamese War, the Viet Cong, or V.C., were equipped and trained to take back their country.
Unfortunately, the Vietnamese living in the southern parts of the nation didn’t share the same sentiments, and a bloody civil war ensued. The north pushed for communism, and the south defended democracy and western ideals. Western powers intervened in the clash, but they greatly underestimated the tenacity and skill of the VC combatants. With America being the chief ally to the South, President Johnson committed U.S. troops to the effort in 1965, for the first 3-year campaign. They were eventually forced to quit the war and leave Vietnam to its fate, after facing massive resistance from civil society in the States, and a devastating death toll among American troops. This ultimately saw the Viet Cong unify the country, in 1975, under hardline communist rule led by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Long Tan Day timeline
Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are declared independent after the Japanese troops in Indochina overthrow the French authorities, ending colonial rule.
Hostilities boil over and Vietnam erupts into civil war, the northern states pitched against the south.
A North Vietnamese patrol boat torpedoes the USS Maddox, and this attack on the U.S. Navy has President Johnson call for airstrikes on the VietCong boats, which leads the U.S. to shoot two aircraft down and take prisoners.
The U.S. leaves Vietnam, Viet Cong operations grow more intense, Saigon is taken, and the Vietnam War officially ends.
Long Tan Day FAQs
Can I celebrate this day?
History belongs to everyone. Taking time out of your day to honor and remember those who lost their lives and struggled bravely, no matter their country, is beneficial for all.
Where is Long Tan?
Long Tan is located in Phước Tuy Province, former South Vietnam. In reunified Vietnam, the area falls under Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province, just southeast of Ho Chi Minh City.
Is Vietnam still a communist state?
Yes. Vietnam is still led by The Communist Party of Vietnam and is widely regarded as a Socialist State.
How to Observe Long Tan Day
Light a candle
For such a somber day, it's important to reflect on those who lost their lives fighting for the cause. Light a candle to honor their memory.
Learn about history
Understanding the motivation for the actions of historical figures, and their reasons for doing what they did, is an important part of learning from history, more so when understanding our present and future. Take a look at what drove so many nations to involve themselves in a war so soon after a global conflict had ended.
Make a donation
There are plenty of veterans who need assistance today. The Vietnam War has had one of the most devastating physical and psychological effects on those who fought in it. Make a donation to support those who fought and sacrificed much for the country.
5 Important Facts About The Vietnam War
The U.S. didn’t lose the war
They lost the war at home, where public outrage for the war effort was immense, but on the ground, the U.S. troops outmanned and outgunned the Viet Cong, who were almost always defeated in skirmishes and battles.
AKs over M16s
U.S. troops preferred using the more reliable AK47s over their government-issued M16s.
Most of the soldiers from foreign territories who fought in the war were drafted and forced to.
Superglue for wounds
With disrupted supply lines, soldiers turned to whatever was available and often used superglue to close wounds while waiting for medical support.
Loss of life
Throughout the campaign, an estimated 3.2 million people, soldiers, and civilians, were killed.
Why Long Tan Day is Important
A stark reminder of how terrible war is
A disregard for the importance of battles fought in the past affects the impact they might have had on our present. The past informs our present, and hopefully, teaches us relevant lessons.
It honors the struggle of soldiers
Soldiers sign up for duty, but they are placed in terrible situations they aren’t always prepared for. During the Vietnam War, many soldiers were drafted and had no say in the decision. We need to remember their struggle.
A reminder of human resilience
Outnumbered 10 to one, allied forces resisted repeat attacks from Viet Cong soldiers for over three hours during the battle. The human will to survive and fight back is unflinching even in the face of terror.
Long Tan Day dates