The official design of Vietnam’s national flag is detailed on the country’s 1992 Constitution. According to the Constitution, the national flag has a horizontal rectangular design. The length-width proportion of the flag is 2:3 respectively. The Flag of Vietnam is made up of a large red field. Centered on the red field is a large yellow five-pointed star. The flag was initially used as the official flag of Vietnam’s resistance movement when French occupied the country. The earliest appearance of the flag was made in November 1940. A local poet, Nguyen Hu’u Tien, who later became a leader in the resistance movement, is attributed to designing the flag. Another theory has it that Le Quang So, another freedom fighter was the designer of the flag. French troops would later capture hu'u Tien and executed in August 1941. A state-sponsored study conducted in the 1980s by Son Tung showed that Nguyen Hu’u Tien had written a poem in which he explained his choice of colors and symbols of the flag.
Meaning of Colors and Symbols
According to the poem, the colors of the flag are inspired by patriotism and culture. The red field represents the bloodshed during the struggle for liberation, while yellow represents the skin color of the majority of Vietnamese people. Hu’u Tien’s poem explicitly states that “the yellow star is the color of our race’s skin.” The five points of the star symbolize the major classes of people; peasants, traders, intellectuals, soldiers, and workers. The other theory states that the red color represents the Communist Party while the star was added purely for aesthetic purposes.
Many of the Vietnamese living in the diaspora have declined to recognize the Flag of Vietnam and instead hoist the Flag of South Vietnam. San Jose, California is home to the largest group of expatriate Vietnamese who recognize the Flag of South Vietnam. Also known as the “Heritage and Freedom Flag,” the flag was initially used in South Vietnam before the two countries merged in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. This flag is designed as a horizontal rectangle featuring a yellow background and three equally-spaced red stripes that run horizontally across the flag. Like in the national flag, the yellow flag symbolizes the skin color of Vietnamese people. The three red bands represent the three regions of Vietnam; Central, North, and South Vietnam. The use of the Flag of South Vietnam is banned in Vietnam.
Other official flags used in Vietnam are the country’s army flag known as the “Flag of the People’s Army of Vietnam,” and the country’s naval ensign. The two flags share the same proportions as the national flag where the length-width ratio is 2:3. The army flag closely resembles the national flag, featuring a large yellow five-pointed star centered on a red field and a yellow inscription “QUYET THANG” on the upper part of the flag’s hoist. The inscription is a rallying call of the army which translates to “determined to succeed.” The naval ensign features the navy’s emblem set upon a white background and a blue stripe on the bottom of the flag.