Dirty war­riors no more

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

I AM proud to be part of a Par­lia­ment that has done such a good job across two Par­lia­ments com­mem­o­rat­ing the Cen­te­nary of An­zac.

There are, how­ever, com­mem­o­ra­tions com­ing up much closer to home that re­quire the na­tion’s at­ten­tion and recog­ni­tion.

For many, the Viet­nam War was a time they want to for­get. It was a time when sol­diers were spat on by passers- by, where they left in dark­ness, and re­turned in dark­ness. They were told, on ar­rival back in their own coun­try, to quickly change into “civvies” and get the hell out of there. As Cold Chisel put it, “There were no V- Day he­roes in 1973”.

Our na­tion has come a long way in re­pair­ing the dam­age done dur­ing this time and to the men and women who served their coun­try in an un­pop­u­lar war. Townsville was front and cen­tre in all this. Our city not only played a ma­jor role in train­ing and trans­port­ing these men and women, we be­came the spir­i­tual home of the Viet­nam Vets.

It was our city which led the na­tional charge to re- en­gage on An­zac Day when “our boys” re­turned from So­ma­lia. The scenes we wit­ness each year now are a far cry from when I was a boy scout in An­zac Day marches in the 1970s where no one turned up.

It is vi­tally im­por­tant to us as a city and a na­tion that we en­sure proper rev­er­ence is given to the 50th an­niver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tions for bat­tles in which Aus­tralian ser­vice per­son­nel en­gaged dur­ing this con­flict. I be­lieve that Townsville should be­come the for­mal home of Viet­nam com­mem­o­ra­tion.

To that end, I have held dis­cus­sions with lo­cal Viet­nam Vet­er­ans and Viet­nam Vet­eran groups on what we could present in this space in our city.

I have spo­ken with the Min­is­ters for Vet­eran’s Af­fairs and De­fence re­gard­ing a ma­jor, last­ing trib­ute to the men and women who rep­re­sented our coun­try, did their duty, and were shunned when they re­turned. While those talks have been pre­lim­i­nary in na­ture, I was given a good re­cep­tion and we will con­tinue to push for this.

My idea is that it takes a three­p­hase look at our en­gage­ment. First, it should recog­nise those who did not come home. Sec­ond, it should re­flect the na­ture of the soldier in bat­tle. Third, it should re­flect the hurt, heal­ing, and peace pro­cesses that come with any bat­tle.

I will be form­ing a work­ing group to as­sist me with this pro­ject and would welcome any in­put or as­sis­tance.

EWEN JONES, Fed­eral Mem­ber for Herbert.

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