- Dang Ai Viet paints portraits of heroic mothers who lost loved ones in the Vietnam War to recognize their sacrifice and ensure they are not forgotten.
- Through her work, Viet preserves the history of the war and provides families with a way to remember their lost loved ones.
Dang Ai Viet, a 75-year-old Vietnamese artist, is on a mission to ensure that the heroic mothers who lost two or more loved ones during the Vietnam War are not forgotten. Viet, a former guerrilla fighter for the Viet Cong, has travelled thousands of miles on her trusty motorcycle to paint the portraits of 2,765 women who suffered significant losses during the war.
The Impact of Viet’s Work
Viet’s portraits are a recognition of 2,765 women’s sacrifice during the war, which ended in 1975. Some researchers estimate that around 3.8 million people were killed during the war, though estimates of the toll vary. Dang Ai Viet’s work aims to ensure that the current and future generations understand the gravity of the loss and see the pain in the eyes of the heroic mothers who lost more than one of their sons.
Viet recently painted the portrait of Huynh Thi Bay, a 98-year-old woman from Dong Thap province in the Mekong Delta. Bay lost her husband and eldest son in 1969, only days apart. “It is devastating enough for a mother to learn of her son’s death, but it takes a hero to learn of the death of both a husband and a son,” Viet said.
Before handing over the portrait to the family, Dang Ai Viet includes details of the woman and how her loved ones died, and the local government gives a stamp of authenticity. “From now on, there will be a picture of her in the family’s possession, and we can always see my mother,” said Bay’s only surviving son, Thuong Van Hop.
The Significance of Honoring Heroic Mothers
Viet’s goal is to paint the portraits of the 5,000 surviving women, but she knows that time is running out. “My biggest fear is that they would leave, and I would never want to miss anyone,” she said. Through her work, Dang Ai Viet hopes to ensure that these heroic mothers are remembered and celebrated for their sacrifices during one of the most difficult periods in Vietnam’s history.