Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga: “All the Vietnamese Who Knew Merle Ratner Can Never Forget Her”

Stunned by the passing of American left-wing activist Merle Ratner - a close friend of Vietnam, Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga, former President of the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organizations, former Head of the Permanent Delegation of Vietnam to the United Nations (UN), emotionally shared memories of her American friend.
February 13, 2024 | 11:13

In Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga's mind, Merle Ratner is an enthusiastic woman with many ideas and immense energy.

She always remembers the American left-wing activist who had a very bright smile, was straightforward and would raise her voice immediately if she had any concerns, especially with a clear and emotional view of Vietnam.

The Ambassador said: "I remember one time the members of the Permanent Delegation of Vietnam to UN came to Merle Ratner's house to have dinner. She said she wanted to invite many people, but her house was too small for that.

The room is very narrow, but if there is any space, it is filled with Vietnamese memorabilia. She kept everything her Vietnamese friends gave her.

Inviting us to her home, she cooked exquisite dishes. She told many stories about American friends - those who are always dedicated to building friendship and cultivating relations between the two countries.

Generations of officials from the Delegation all remember Merle because she was almost present at events, assisted a lot in activities of high-level delegations visiting the US, as well as coordinating to invite American friends to exchange in Vietnam".

Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga: “All the Vietnamese Who Knew Merle Ratner Can Never Forget Her”
Merle Ratner (right) in an activity supporting peace for Vietnam. (Photo: VNA)

Speaking about the special loyalty that Ms. Merle Ratner has for Vietnam, Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga affirmed that the American left-wing activist devoted her entire life and career to fighting for the independence, freedom, and happiness of the Vietnamese people.

When she was young, she was one of the leaders in the movement opposing the unjust war in Vietnam, sparking the anti-war movement in America.

Later, when Vietnam gained independence and unified the country, she continued to campaign to normalize relations between the two countries, always supporting Vietnam's efforts in rebuilding the country, especially in demanding justice and lobbying the US government to provide support for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/dioxin.

Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga recalled that not long ago (about 1 or 2 weeks before her death), Merle Ratner also talked to her to discuss plans to bring American friends to visit Vietnam.

The Ambassador shared: "It can be seen that at all times she aches for Vietnam to develop towards socialism and have a prosperous and happy life. Above all, Merle is a fighter for the goals of peace, justice, and human happiness, especially always interested in the lives of workers.

Merle said that her biggest wish is to help the young generation of Americans, those of Vietnamese origin born and raised in America, have love for their homeland - Vietnam and hope to provide more information about Vietnam to American friends.

Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga also said that Merle Ratner is a person who works tirelessly, and recently she even went to school to serve the work of the leftist movement and the friendship relations between the two countries. Due to her busy work, she has not had the opportunity to return to Vietnam in recent years.

The Ambassador was emotional: "I think all Vietnamese people who knew Mel can never forget her.

She still has many plans and unfinished work and is coordinating with Vietnamese agencies and organizations to promote friendship relations between the two countries. Unfortunately, she could not continue to carry out her plan.

Her passing is a big loss for Vietnam, the leftist movement in the US, and those fighting for peace around the world".

Merle Evelyn Ratner, born in 1956 in New York City, has a special love for Vietnam. She took to the streets to protest against the Vietnam War when she was 13 years old and became famous for hanging anti-war slogans on the Statue of Liberty.

She is also a co-founder and coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign (VAOR-RC) in the New York area.

Ratner actively participated in protests against the US war in Vietnam since the late 1960s, the anti-imperialist movement in the 1970s and 1980s, and anti-racism campaigns in America today.

After 1975, with a deep love for Vietnam, Ratner campaigned for the normalization of Vietnam-US relations, supported Vietnam’s international activities, and supported Agent Orange victims of Vietnam.

Merle Ratner was awarded the "For Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims" award in 2013; the Medal "For the Development of Vietnamese Women" in 2010.

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