The sky turns blue in May when the myrtle flowers are in full bloom. 79-year-old Tran Thi Trac remembers vividly 60 years ago when she was a member of the security team for a reception for President Ho Chi Minh on May 9, 1961. That morning a helicopter landed on Co To island and the President stepped down in his worn-out clothes and waved at the locals.
|Mrs. Tran Thi Trac of Co To island (Photo: VOV)
Trac recalls, “Oh, he looked fabulous the day he visited us. Thousands of people from other islands flocked to Co To, each them carrying a national flag to cheer the President. At that time, we were about to harvest sweet potatoes. He went to the field and took out a big potato weighing over a kilogram. Since then we have never harvested such a big one. The President also tried his hand at making salt and visited the border guards.”
After that visit, Co To citizens and soldiers sought permission to build a President Ho Chi Minh statue and got his approval. The construction began in 1968 and the place where he met locals was turned into a memorial house, which now displays his table, wardrobe, clothes, sandals, the bed he napped on, and photos of his visit to Co To island.
Local Nguyen Thi Men said, “We burn incense at this memorial house to pray for his blessings not only during festivals but also before we get married or take an exam. The statue shelters us spiritually. It is a source of pride.”
|President Ho Chi Minh statue on Co To island (Photo: VOV)
To honor President Ho Chi Minh’s teachings, Co To islanders have work hard to develop their island. Co To, 60 kilometers from the mainland, was connected to the national electricity grid in 2013. 82-year-old Le Minh Tan was one of the first teachers to come to the Co To islands 30 years ago and has been living here ever since.
Tan said, “Co To island has seen remarkable economic improvements. There are no poor people. Here we have electricity, cement roads, schools, health clinics, and other essential facilities. It was the solidarity of the Co To islanders that affected these changes. We have worked through hard days together. When electricity was first available on this island, I wrote a poem entitled “A brightening Co To” to express our thanks.”
Co To island district was the first in Vietnam to earn Government recognition as a new-style rural district.