The commemorations of historical figures, both public and private, have become a powerful tool for politicians and historians in Vietnam to reconfigure the past, national heroes, and revolutionary martyrs. One of the state's commemorative projects is devoted to glorifying the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) soldiers, and preserving all temples and relicts related to their activities on Ly Son Island. This state project may be seen as a strategy to claim sovereignty in the face of competition from several nation states, including China, for control over the two archipelagos. Conversely, the Vietnamese state is also challenged by alternative accounts from the Ly Son people, who have introduced their own narratives. This essay analyses contestations over memory and the attempts of the Ly Son villagers to establish continuity with the past through their ancestors in order to demonstrate solidarity, patriotism, and their own prestige.

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