Among the countless resistance-era artifacts that the Hanoi Museum is preserving are letters sent by soldiers from the battlefield and volunteer petitions written in blood. These are pages that are full of emotions, nostalgia and determination to defeat the American invaders ... We were deeply moved when we read the letter of martyr, journalist Duong Thi Xuan Quy to her family on April 16th, 1968.

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The letter of martyr, journalist Duong Thi Xuan Quy to her family on April 16th, 1968

Writer - journalist Duong Thi Xuan Quy was born on April 19th, 1941 at 195 Hang Bong Street, Hanoi. Her hometown was in Phu Thi Village, Me So Commune, Van Giang District, Hung Yen Province. She was born in a family of French anti-colonial patriotic intellectuals and artists. Her grandfather, Duong Trong Pho, campaigned early on for Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc movement and was exiled to Con Dao Island by the French colonialists. Her father, Duong Tu Quan, was a teacher who later turned to journalism and became the chief editor of the Literature Magazine and then Tri Tan Magazine. Her uncle, Duong Ba Trac, both actively participated in Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc and wrote newspapers. After suppressing the movement, the French colonialists offered him a position as a district chief, but he refused, continued his anti - French activities, and was exiled to Con Dao Island. Another uncle of Duong Thi Xuan Quy was the famous researcher Duong Quang Ham. Her two cousins were the painters Duong Bich Lien and Duong Cam Chuong. 

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Martyr, journalist Duong Thi Xuan Quy

Martyr Duong Thi Xuan Quy had been gifted and passionate about literature since childhood. After the liberation of the capital city, she returned to Hanoi to study at Trung Vuong Secondary School. After graduating, she attended Industrial Technical School II in Quang Ninh, majoring in geodesy. She was a regular contributor to Tien Phong and the Lao Dong Newspapers. After graduating from a journalism class, she worked as a reporter for Phu Nu Viet Nam (VietnamWomen) Newspaper from 1961 to 1968. As active as a reporter with a strong personality, she was present in many rural areas in the North. During her seven years working for Phu Nu Viet Nam (Vietnam Women), she wrote many articles, short stories, and autographs, some which were written right at the fire line of the Region IV.

When the Americans bombed the North, she was present in the key areas of Nghe An and Ha Tinh fire lines in 1965. That year, she volunteered to join the Southern battlefield. In April 1968, she set off to cross Truong Son mountain range into the South, when her daughter was only 16 months old, and her husband, poet Bui Minh Quoc, had been on the battlefield a year earlier.

In a letter to her family on April 16th, 1968, she wrote, “Tomorrow, April 17th, 1968, I am going to move to the same battlefield as Quoc. During past few days, I have been very healthy and excited. I am incomprehensibly strong. We have walked under a wonderful moonlight. Before I left, I sent you a letter as you asked me. Please be reassured about me.” She excitedly boasted about a new happy life and about a new camera “I was given a very good and beautiful German camera worth 1500 VND (One thousand five hundred VND). I brought five reels of film that were played. (About the camera, I have sent its box home). I also gave my old watch to Bich Ngoc. I have just bought a good Soviet women's one. Along the way, I will sell the watch for money if needed.” During her time on the fierce Southern battlefield, Ms. Quy wrote the short story “Hoa Rung (Forest Flowers)” and many autographs, such as “Tieng hat trong hang da (Singing in the cave)”, “Guong mat thach thuc (A defiant face)” and “Niem vui tham lang (A silent joy)”

In December 1968, Ms. Quy asked to return to Quang Da battlefield. 

This was the fiercest battlefield of the Region V in particular and of the South in general. In her diary on December 15th, 1968, she wrote: “Strange! Knowing the danger, but I am still willing to rush in, despite sacrifice. Everyone must die once. Of course, I thought of him and Ly's suffering. But it must be all over... That was my thought when I was assigned to Quang Da from now until the end of March 1969... Worried! I am worried. But I am determined and think that even if I die, it is like everyone else. Thinking so, I am not afraid anymore.” It was not only a very honest but also courageous confidence. With such a steadfast attitude of participation, she had recorded a lot of documents about villages, natural scenes, people, and especially the destructive crimes of the enemy in her “Nhat ky chien truong (Battlefield Diary)” and in her memoirs and short stories. On the night of March 8th, 1969, Ms. Quy heroically died in Thi Thanh Village, Xuyen Tan (now Duy Thanh) Commune, Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province during a fierce sweep of South Koreans when she and her comrades crawled from the underground shelter to secretly find a way out of the encirclement.

Duong Thi Xuan Quy left a number of main works such as “Ve Lang (Return to the home village)” (first short story in 1960), “Cho dung (Standing point)” (short story collection in 1968), “Hoa Rung (Forest Flowers)”  (a collection of short stories and autographs written in the North and in a short time in the South)… and is the shining example of a writer - soldier who sacrificed for the cause of independence for the nation and freedom of the country. She was posthumously awarded the State Prize for Literature and Arts in 2007.

The letter of journalist, martyr Duong Thi Xuan Quy has now become a sacred memento preserved and displayed by Hanoi Museum for present and future generations.

Nguyễn Thị Huệ - Kiều Tuấn Đạt