Memorial for Merle Ratner: A Reverential and Heartfelt Tribute

On the morning of Feb. 16, in Hanoi, the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations organized a hybrid memorial service to pay tribute to Merle Ratner.

0
77

Phan Anh Son, President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, chaired the memorial. Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga, former President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, and Tran Dac Loi, former Standing Deputy Head of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, Standing Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Peace Committee, Standing Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation, were present at the event. Also in attendance were Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States, and President of the Vietnam-US Society. Representatives of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, Office of the President, Office of the Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, Vietnam Women’s Union, and Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin Foundation were present as well. Many Vietnamese agencies and organizations, foreign non-governmental organizations in Vietnam, and American and Vietnamese friends attended in person.

In the USA, Professor Ngo Thanh Nhan, Merle Ratner’s husband, and American relatives and friends of Merle Ratner and her family attended via nearly 40 online meeting points.

President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations Phan Anh Son delivered a speech at the Memorial Service. (Photo: Dinh Hoa)

In a solemn and touching atmosphere, Phan Anh Son, President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, offered condolences from Vietnamese friends to Merle Ratner. Ratner was a peace activist and war protester who fought for civil rights and progress. She was a great and faithful friend of the Vietnamese people and a close comrade and partner of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations and many Vietnamese agencies and organizations.

Speakers at the event recounted Merle Ratner’s activism since the age of 13, including her participation in peace movements and vigorous protests against the US war in Vietnam. They also highlighted her support for the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and her tireless efforts to raise awareness among Americans about the mistakes of the American war and the Vietnamese people’s right to independence.

Phan Anh Son emphasized that the image of a 16-year-old girl raising the flag of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam at the Statue of Liberty in New York to protest the American war in Vietnam and singing the song “Liberation of the South” with peace-loving Americans during their street demonstrations for a peaceful and unified Vietnam will remain unforgettable in the hearts of many Vietnamese people. It is a symbol of international solidarity, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Vietnamese people in the movement to protest the American war in Vietnam.

Moment of silence to farewell Merle Ratner. (Photo: Dinh Hoa)

Following the end of the war, Merle Ratner continued to support the Vietnamese people in rebuilding their country. She and her like-minded friends fought against the US embargo on Vietnam and demanded that the US respect the Paris Peace Accord. From 1976 to 1979, she and her husband, Professor Ngo Thanh Nhan, promoted the establishment of the “Patriotic Overseas Vietnamese Association in the US” to urge the US Government to normalize relations and lift the embargo on Vietnam.

As a co-founder of the “Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign – VAORRC,” Merle Ratner accompanied and assisted the Vietnamese people in healing the wounds of war. She worked tirelessly to mobilize organizations and individuals to support and seek justice for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/dioxin. She also put pressure on the US Government and chemical companies responsible for cleaning up the environment in hot spots, as well as providing compensation, health services, education, and job opportunities for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/dioxin.

Merle Ratner had a strong belief in the ideals of Communism and Socialism. She affirmed that the Communist Party of Vietnam has remained steadfast on the path to socialism and continues to fight for the values of socialism worldwide. She expressed confidence that Vietnam will surely succeed on its chosen path.

Merle Ratner and her husband, Professor Ngo Thanh Nhan, have devoted all their love to Vietnam. Their home has become a familiar gathering place for Vietnamese people living and working in the US. Ratner and her husband have supported numerous activities involving high-level Vietnamese delegations to the US and have also coordinated visits by American friends to Vietnam.

President Phan Anh Son and Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga wrote in the funeral book to say goodbye to Merle Ratner. (Photo: Dinh Hoa)

For the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, Merle Ratner was a loyal, sincere, and straightforward friend and comrade. She was always willing to support the organization and its member organizations in organizing peace, solidarity, and friendship activities with left-wing friends and the communist party in the US. She also enthusiastically participated in many activities organized by member organizations such as the Vietnam – USA Society, the Vietnam Peace Committee, and the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation.

“Merle Ratner lived a beautiful and meaningful life. The feelings and legacy she left behind regarding the relationship and solidarity of the Vietnamese and American people will be a fire that continues to burn brightly in the belief in friendship, mutual understanding and respect, for peace, cooperation, and development between the two countries and the people of Vietnam and the United States in the present and the future,” said Phan Anh Son.

In her remarks at the Memorial Service, Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga stated that Merle Ratner is a special friend and comrade of Vietnam. She made significant contributions to Vietnam-US relations and tirelessly worked for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. She devoted her entire life to fighting for peace, justice, freedom, and development in the world. She fought for the well-being of the people and for their rights and a better life.

Ngo Thanh Nhan, Merle Ratner’s husband, delivered a speech from a bridgepoint in the USA during the memorial service. (Photo: Dinh Hoa)

From New York, Professor Ngo Thanh Nhan, Merle Ratner’s husband, expressed gratitude to the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations for organizing the Memorial Service. He stated, “Merle wants me to continue developing the Vietnam-US people’s relationship. Merle emphasized that, in people-to-people diplomacy, we must pay attention to young people and encourage them to participate in cooperation and solidarity activities. I will continue to develop left-wing people-to-people relations among races in America, with black comrades, all people of color in the world, and especially with the Vietnamese people.”

During the Memorial Service, American and Vietnamese friends offered their heartfelt condolences to Ngo Thanh Nhan and his family through social networks and wrote messages in the funeral book to bid farewell to Merle Ratner.

On this occasion, the Presidium of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations posthumously awarded Merle Ratner the “Medal for Peace and Friendship among Nations,” the highest distinction of the organization, in recognition of her valuable contributions and support for Vietnam in the cause of national unification, overcoming the consequences of war, and promoting people-to-people relations between Vietnam and the United States.

The passing of Merle Ratner is a tremendous loss for the peace movement in the US and Vietnam. She will forever be missed by those who love peace and fight for justice, freedom, and equality.

(Tran Dac Loi, Standing Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Peace Committee, Standing Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation)

Merle Ratner deeply understood and cherished Vietnam. Vietnamese history, culture, music, poetry, cuisine, and people became an integral part of her life. Her unwavering determination to fight for humanity and her love for Vietnam will forever live in the hearts and minds of Merle Ratner’s friends.

(Bui The Giang, Vice President of the Vietnam – USA Society)

Merle Ratner accompanied the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin Foundation, fighting for justice and mobilizing resources to support Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. For 20 years, she contributed to alleviating the suffering of more than three million victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam. The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin Foundation expresses its condolences on the passing of Merle Ratner and pledges to continue her unfinished work in accompanying and supporting victims of Agent Orange.

(Nguyen Huu Chinh, Chairman of Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin)

VNT writers