THE Vietnam War was unlike any war Australian had been involved in up until that point, for a number of reasons.
As the city stopped on Saturday afternoon to reflect on the service of the young men who served over there, both conscripted and those who signed up, it’s also important to reflect on the lessons we learnt as a nation, to ensure we don’t repeat our mistakes.
History has a tendency of repeating itself, such is its nature.
There are many parallels between the Vietnam War and the recent conflicts Australia has been involved with – particularly those in the Middle East, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Often when talking to Vietnam veterans, they’ll allude to these similarities and you can sense the concern they hold for their fellow former soldiers. They’re worried about the way these young veterans will be looked after once they’ve finished their service.
The treatment of the Vietnam veterans, both as a community and a government, is a dark stain on our nation’s history.
Many veterans were treated with such disdain, it took them decades to take part in any form of military commemorations such as Anzac Day.
The suicide rate among Vietnam veterans was shocking, and it’s still a battle that many face today.
The war, and their subsequent reception, has left Vietnam veterans with a strong desire to never see that section of history repeated. And while it appears as a nation, we have learnt and grown from this transgression of the past, it’s easy to get complacent, particularly when the conflicts seems so far away from the relative safety of our lounge rooms.
The Tamworth Young Veterans recently unveiled their own post-1973 war memorial, only a few hundred metres down the road from the Vietnam War memorial.
Building, designing and funding a war memorial is no simple undertaking. But the young veterans were guided, encouraged and mentored by the generation of veterans before them – the Vietnam vets.
Hopefully this small part of history will repeat itself.
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