Dirty warriors no more
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.