“The lekima flower in full bloom, we are reminded of a heroine who died for future generations. The young lady so full of vitality fought against our enemies with firm spirit and even death could not force her to yield”. The song echoes in the mind of everybody who visits Hàng Dương cemetary in Côn Đảo district, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu province. Vo Thi Sau, the heroine mentioned in the song, was executed by the French colonialists at the foot of Chua mountain in the early morning of January 23, 1952. 60 years later, her immortal patriotism and glorious sacrifice still shine in the heart of every Vietnamese person, particularly those who live on Con Dao island, once called “hell on the earth”. VOV’s Lan Anh reports:
The 20-hectare Hàng Dương cemetery holds the graves of more than 20,000 martyrs, including revolutionary martyr Lê Hồng Phong, patriot Nguyễn An Ninh, and hero Cao Văn Ngọc. Visitors are moved to see grave after grave, some named, some unnamed, stretching over the hill. Vo Thi Sau’s grave, set in gravel and soil shoveled by her fellow prisoners, lies in section B. Cemetery guard Nguyễn Ngọc Minh told us: “The cemetery is most crowded at weekend. Visitors and locals come here to burn incense and pray for those lie here and for the health and peace of those who are still living.”
Sau’s headstone is made of marble with words engraved that say: “Vo Thi Sau, born in 1933 and died on January 23rd, 1952, at the age of 19”. Sau, whose most valuable possession was her patriotism, sacrificed her youth and her life to the fatherland. Joining the revolutionary movement at the age of 14, Sau was eventually caught and sentenced to death by the French. Not daring to kill her in the mainland, they took her to Con Dao Island for execution. Nguyễn Công Lộc has worked at the Con Dao Prison Relic Site for 32 years. Loc said: “People who live on Con Dao island all come to Sau’s grave to burn incense and pray and share their feelings and thoughts with Sau.” Huỳnh Thị Kim Loan, a Con Dao resident, told VOV: “Nobody misses sister Sau’s grave when they visit Hang Duong cemetery. They always stop by her grave to burn incense and pay tribute to her. That brave young lady is a bright example for the younger generations to follow. She encourages all of us to contribute to our nation and be worthy of the sacrifices made by Sau and other martyrs.”
Sau has become a symbol of respect and patriotism. Her grave is always surrounded by fresh flowers and the fragrance of burning incense. Nguyễn Thị Tám, Deputy Director of Con Dao Relic Management Board, said: “Although sister Sau passed away at a very young age, her image lives forever in our hearts. We respect and love her and we come to her grave to pray for her blessing. The first thing anyone should do upon arrival at Con Dao is visit the Hang Duong Cemetery and burn incense at Sau’s grave as well as those of other martyrs.”
Sister Sau’s was already a legend when the ship carrying her docked at Con Dao island in 1952. At the execution, the young lady refused to be blindfolded, wanting to admire the motherland’s landscape and sing till her last breath. Many families on Con Dao island have set up altars to worship sister Sau, whose legend has become eternal in each Vietnamese heart.