Well folks, it is the fortieth anniversary of the battle of Long Tan in Vietnam. Honourable Aussies, along with our buddies from across the Pacific ocean and South Vietnamese Army were at war against North Viet Nam and the Viet Cong in the south of the country. Ok, there were a couple of other countries involved too.
Today we honour the brave in that battle of Long Tan. I am including a thought for all the combatants, our side and their side. We lost a few Aussies, North Vietnam and the VC lost many, many more.
It was an awful war, as if there can ever be a good one. Awful for Australia, awful for the US, awful for Viet Nam.
What were we doing there? I know, because I have informally studied the war for many years. I concluded quite a while ago that we were wrong being there, as was anyone else. You may do your own research and draw your own conclusions.
Apart from some ongoing problems with our returned soldiers, you would hardly know it ever happened now, in Australia that is. Viet Nam still bears many scars and the war still has day to day effects on the people's lives.
Viewed from over thirty years on since we bolted from the country with our tails between our legs, the returned soldiers were treated shamefully, by the general population, by the governments and by the RSL. Not too many people would disagree with that, but what is lacking is an historical context.
People who were around then seem to have forgotten the passion of people who disagreed with the war. Not only the war, but conscription, that is forcing young men, teenagers, to go and fight. Not even old enough to vote! The misery the war caused to Vietnam and Laos and subsequently Cambodia. So many young men and women killed, millions by 1979, as a direct result of the war. All so futile.
While I feel for our returned diggers and the way they were treated, I expect I would have behaved the same toward them as many others did. The government knew which way the political wind was blowing. No welcome home for them. Without saying the war was right, they should have been treated decently by the government and the RSL.
They were mostly honourable servicemen, but the war they were involved in was not.
Signed, Hanoi Jay.