Proud People Yearning to be Free
World War I reawakened Vietnam’s yearning to be free. The colonial French forced almost 100,000 Vietnamese men and boys to fight in France against the Germans. Thousands lost their lives in the brutal trench warfare. At the end of the war, a young Vietnamese named Nguyen That Thanh came to the Paris Peace Conference, inspired by American President Woodrow Wilson's promise of "self-determination" for Europe. He pleaded for an end to France’s colonial rule, but was ignored. Disillusioned, he returned home, changed his name to Ho Chi Minh and dedicated his life to fighting for Vietnam’s independence.