TAMWORTH took a moment to pause and dwell on the town’s contribution to the Vietnam War, on the weekend.
Like any town in Australia, names are etched in stone or bronze stood sentinel in city centres to serve as stark reminders of the human cost of global conflicts to communities.
Tamworth is no different, paying homage to history, its heroes and horrors, with war memorials dotted across town, dwelling on the past.
While the pledge of “lest we forget” carries a degree of reverence in preserving military memories in perpetuity, Vietnam Veterans’ Day serves to honour history, but it’s also about moving away from the wrongs of the past.
North West Vietnam Veterans Social Group president Wally Franklin said they don’t like to dwell too much on the treatment of Australia’s soldiers upon return Vietnam, because much has been rectified in the intervening years.
And rather than spending energy dwelling on past grievances, surviving Vietnam veterans have placed a firm focus on protecting the next generation of service men and women from similar treatment.
“So younger veterans don’t go through the rubbish we went through, it’s not fair on us and it’s not fair on anyone who serves their country,” Mr Franklin said.
He said there was an excellent turnout to Saturday’s service on Marius Street with the level of observance growing in recent years.
Mr Franklin said education and awareness about the stories of Vietnam have led to a greater degree of recognition and commemoration from the community.
With RSLs around the country largely headed by Vietnam veterans, he said a lot of good work was being done to ensure young vets are duly recognised.
Mr Franklin said Tamworth sub-branch president Bob Chapman had done an excellent job working with the town’s young veterans, pointing to the recent establishment of Post 1973 Memorial.
August 18 marked the 52nd anniversary of the beginning of the battle of Long Tan, which bears special significance to Tamworth.
The battle saw 108 Australian and New Zealand men fought more than 2000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops in a rubber plantation near the small village of Long Tan.
Mr Franklin said Tamworth man Second Lieutenant Gordon Sharp was the first officer to fall in the battle.
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