Bridge Points Around the Globe Honor Merle Ratner

On February 29, at 6:30 am (Vietnam time), a commemorative gathering for Merle Ratner took place simultaneously in New York City (USA) and across over 100 virtual platforms around the globe. Among the participants joining the event remotely from Hanoi were Nguyen Ngoc Hung, Vice President of the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organizations, and numerous individuals from the Vietnamese community.

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About 200 delegates attended the ceremony in person and online. They are Merle Ratner’s relatives, comrades, friends, members of left-wing movements, the Communist Party, the Workers’ Party, Marxist-oriented organizations, Trade unions, groups protecting workers’ rights, advocacy groups supporting Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, and numerous representatives of the Vietnamese community in the USA.

During the ceremony, Vietnamese Ambassador to the USA Nguyen Quoc Dung emphasized Merle Ratner’s active role in fighting for solidarity, justice, peace, and the rights of victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Vietnam and its people will always cherish her dedication to the struggles for national liberation, national unification, and the development and integration of Vietnam. Her tireless efforts and love for justice will be remembered for generations to come.

Ngo Thanh Nhan sings the song “Cô gái mở đường” (Girls who keep the roads open) for his dear wife, Merle Ratner. (Photo: Vietnam Embassy to the USA)

Bill Fletcher, a close friend of Merle Ratner, described her as determined, energetic, and always willing to help. He expressed his gratitude for enabling him to better understand Vietnam, its history, culture, and the Vietnamese government’s efforts in rebuilding the country.

Ngo Thanh Nhan, Merle Ratner’s husband, expressed his gratitude to those attending the memorial service. He announced his plans to bring Merle’s ashes back to Vietnam, acknowledging the love and support she received from the Vietnamese people. He pledged to continue their shared journey of strengthening Vietnam-US relations.

During the memorial service, American and Vietnamese friends of the Ratner family conveyed their condolences to Ngo Thanh Nhan and left farewell messages for Merle Ratner.

Merle Evelyn Ratner (outer left, in purple) at a protest against the manufacturer of Agent Orange.

Merle Evelyn Ratner, born in 1956 in New York, is a left-wing activist with a special affection for Vietnam. She actively participated in the movement to end the Vietnam War, protesting against it since the age of 13. Her notable act was hanging anti-war slogans on the Statue of Liberty. She supported the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, engaged in anti-imperialist movements in the 1970s and 1980s, and supported current anti-racism movements in the USA. After 1975, she dedicated herself to normalizing Vietnam-US relations, supporting various international activities related to Vietnam, and advocating for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. Her contributions extended beyond Vietnam’s struggle for independence and development; she also introduced Vietnam’s culture, history, and people to the international community.

She had close ties with the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations and collaborated with numerous Vietnamese agencies and organizations.

Nguyen Ngoc Hung, Vice President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (middle), and Vietnamese friends of Merle Ratner joined online from Hanoi. (Photo: Dinh Hoa)

On February 16, the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations held a memorial service for Merle Ratner in Hanoi. The ceremony, chaired by Phan Anh Son, President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, saw the participation of Ambassadors, representatives from the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations, Office of the State President, Office of the Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, Vietnam Women’s Union, Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin, Vietnamese agencies and organizations, foreign non-governmental organizations in Vietnam, and American and Vietnamese friends. Ngo Thanh Nhan, along with American relatives and friends of Merle Ratner and her family, joined virtually through nearly 40 connection points.

Valerie Mai