Incense offering ceremony on the 135th anniversary of the passing of Governor Hoàng Diệu

On the morning of 4 March 2017, the Thăng Long – Hà Nội Heritage Conservation Centre held an incense offering ceremony at Bắc Môn (North Gate) in commemoration of the demise of Governor Hoàng Diệu.

The ceremony was attended by Comrade Nguyễn Xuân Phúc – Member of the Politburo, Prime Minister of Vietnam, Comrade Nguyễn Đức Chung – Chairman of the People’s Committee of Hà Nội, Comrade Ngô Thị Thanh Hằng – Deputy Secretary of Hà Nội Party Committee, representatives of the local authorities, army officers and members of mass organizations, the public as well as students from a local primary school named after the deceased Governor.

Governor Hoàng Diệu, known by birth as Hoàng Kim Tích, style name Quang Viễn, courtesy name Tĩnh Trai. He was born in 1829 to a family of renowned scholarly traditions in Xuân Đài Village, Diên Phước, Quảng Nam (now Điện Bàn District of Quảng Nam).  In 1848, Hoàng Diệu passed the provincial exam in Thừa Thiên for Cử nhân (literally ‘Recommended Man’) degree, together with his elder brother Hoàng Kim Giám. In 1853, Hoàng Diệu sat for the metropolitan exam and became a Phó bảng (literally: doctoral runner-up). He assumed the following posts: inventory officer in Academy (1853), District Chief of Tuy Viễn (Tuy Phước – Bình Định) in 1854, District Chief of Hương Trà (Thừa Thiên Huế)  in 1864. Between 1868 and 1876 he held respectively the following positions: Prefecture Chief of Đa Phúc (Phúc Yên), Prefecture Chief of Lạng Giang (Bắc Giang), Province Chief of Nam Định, Province Chief of Bắc Ninh. In 1878, Hoàng Diệu returned to his native province of Quảng Nam and was tasked with the rescue of people and repelling of bandits. Between 1878 and 1879, he served in the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Home Affairs. During his life of officialdom, he was on some occasions demoted because of the wrongdoings of his inferiors without his knowledge. Later, the Royal Court, which realized that he was a talented man, with integrity and enthusiasm to boot, decided to restore his titles. In 1879, Hoàng Diệu was involved in diplomatic field, working as a Deputy Ambassador. He aided the Ambassador in trade agreement negotiations with Spain. It was also in this year that he was promoted to be Minister of Defence. In 1880, Hoàng Diệu became Governor of Hà Ninh, where he was to manage the most crucial region of Tonkin, which included Hà Nội and its vicinity. He did his best to reinforce defence for the city and take care of its people. Today, next to Ô quan Chưởng City Gate, there still stands a stele inscribed in 1881 by Governor Hoàng Diệu and his associate Hoàng Hữu Xứng which ordered officials not to cause troubles to the people during weddings or funerals, together with a set of other regulations that everybody had to abide by.

When the French launched a second attack on Hà Nội Citadel on 25/4/1882, Hoàng Diệu commanded his men to engage the enemy, bravely defending the citadel despite the prior surrender by the central court in Huế. However, because of a traitor who set fire to the ammunition inside the citadel which resulted in chaos, the French took advantage and climbed over the western city gate, pushed down the gate and stormed the citadel in large number.

Right after the fall of Hà Nội Citadel, Governor Hoàng Diệu retreated to the inner palace, prepared a memorial admitting responsibility to the court before using his turban to commit suicide at Võ Miếu, sending a message that he would rather die than surrender.

On the watchtower of Cửa Bắc (North Gate) today, an altar has been set up to commemorate eternally two governors of Hà Nội Nguyễn Tri Phương and Hoàng Diệu, who sacrificed their lives for the people and the country:

“Loyalty to the country, benevolence to the people – comparable to the Sun and the Moon
Birth in the South, death in the North – intrepidity shines forever with the prosperity of the nation”

The life of loyalty and benevolence led by the two governors Nguyễn Tri Phương and Hoàng Diệu are likened to the sun and the moon. Although they were not born in Thăng Long, both sacrificed their lives for this land. Their integrity and intrepidity prevail forever with the country.

The incense offering ceremony is a good chance for posterity to show their respect and reverence to the huge merits of the martyrs who dedicated their lives in defence of the city and the country. It helps to instill a sense of patriotism in the young generation.

Some photos of the ceremony:


Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and the delegates offering incense in commemoration of Governor Hoàng Diệu.


Teachers and students of Hoàng Diệu Primary School (Ba Đình – Hà Nội) coming to pay homage to Governor Hoàng Diệu – a man born in Quảng Nam but whose name is now given to the school.


Teachers and students of Hoàng Diệu Primary school reading historical texts about the merits of Hoàng Diệu.


Bắc Môn (North Gate) is a place for tradition education for young generations.


Joyful photo in front of Bắc Môn, which still retains traces of the tragic yet glorious history made by forefathers.


Teachers and students of Hoàng Diệu Primary school having a group photo with Mr. Phạm Quang Nghị, former Secretary of Hà Nội Party Committee

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