By Brian Williams and Ho Binh Minh
Saturday, April 30, 2005; 9:08 AM
HO CHI MINH CITY (Reuters) - Vietnam celebrated the 30th anniversary of the end of "The American War" on Saturday, baking a four-toncake for Liberation Day babies and staging a military parade without a real tank in sight.
The communist nation's top leaders, as well as retired General Vo Nguyen Giap, the 94-year-old military chief whose tactics subdued first the French then the Americans, attended the key celebrations in the city known in war years as Saigon.
Breaking with the military ceremonies of past anniversaries, Vietnam -- which once boasted one of the world's most feared armies -- this time mustered only a single fake wooden tank and no missiles as hundreds of soldiers made a march past.
Concerned that too visible a show of "triumphalism" could harm crucial economic ties with the United States, now Vietnam's biggest trading partner, Hanoi made sure that this year's celebrations were as much about the future as the past.
On the eve of the anniversary, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai urged all sides involved in a conflict that killed two million Vietnamese and more than 58,000 Americans to close the past and look forward.