Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of the Vietnamese capital on Sunday to bid a final farewell to a legendary war hero who led the poor Southeast Asian nation to victory over the French and then the Americans.
"Long live Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap," people chanted, many in tears, as his flag-draped coffin passed by on a truck-drawn artillery carriage. The procession traveled along a 40-kilometer (25-mile) route from the national funeral house in downtown Hanoi to the airport. Crowds of young and old lined the route, in places 10 deep.
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Giap, who died on Oct. 4 at age 102, was revered in Vietnam only second to his mentor, former President Ho Chi Minh. Alongside the public outpouring of emotion, the government orchestrated an elaborate send off for the general, seeking to use the moment to foster national unity at a time of discontent and economic malaise.
After the war, Giap was sidelined by the Communist Party, and toward the end of his life emerged as something of a critic, shielded from consequence because of his popularity. State-controlled media has been awash in eulogy for him since his death, but neglected to mention this chapter in his life.