William Duiker and Keith Taylor, in two required readings for the ACS online course, comment briefly on the famous Trung Sisters. Why is a major Saigon street named for them today? Were they part of the victorious enemy of the United States during the Vietnam War?

The Trung sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, lived in first century Vietnam and led a rebellion against Chinese authority about 39-40 C.E. For about four years, the thousand-year period of China's domination of its southern neighbor ended. When these women leaders suffered defeat, however, some recorded that they committed suicide by drowning themselves. As Duiker writes, not even ten centuries of China's rule could "erase memories of Vietnamese independence" (p. 6).

There is no better explanation of the importance of these two Vietnamese heroes than that which Keith Taylor presents (Appendix K, pp. 334-339, part of the required reading for the Pre-Colonial Vietnam topic). Using rich Vietnamese and Chinese cultural sources available, Professor Taylor (Cornell University) points to their growing fame over the centuries. They were short-lived heroes but long have been remembered and honored among women and men alike in Vietnam. They became cult figures and inspired Vietnamese women who fought against both the French colonizers and United States troops centuries later.

As students in this online course will discover, Vietnamese women played significant roles in the Vietnam War, inspired in part by the patriotism and heroism of the first century Trung Sisters.



This image appears in William Duiker's Sacred War (1995), one of the core texts for the course.

    Another brief reference to Trung Trac and Trung Nhi is Pham Cao Duong's entry in Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, edited by Spender C. Tucker (1998) Vol. Two, p. 703. He reports that many Vietnamese regard the Trung sisters "to be the most important and revered heroines in Vietnam's history. Temples were erected in their honor, and the anniversary of their deaths has become Vietnamese Women's Day. Ceremonies are organized annually in their honor on the sixth day of the second month of the lunar calendar." Pham is also the author of the encyclopedia entries on Vietnam: Prehistory through 938 and Vietnam: 938 through the French Conquest (pp. 756-759).


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