Vietnam veterans and their families are today commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Australia’s withdrawal from the Vietnam War (1962-73).
Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) is supporting the vigil and is urging the community to reflect on the immense cost of war and how we, as a country make the decision to join overseas wars.
In total there were over three million casualties in Vietnam and up to two million of those were civilians.
Almost 60,000 Australians served during a decade of conflict. Tragically, 523 of them died and 3000 were wounded. Many thousands suffered from the severe trauma they experienced.
“The human costs of war are devastating and are so often overlooked when politicians are deciding to send troops,” said Dr Alison Broinowski AM from AWPR.
“Today is a day to listen to veterans, their families and the families of those who died or were injured.”
“Today is also another reminder of why we need War Powers Reform. We believe any decision to take Australia into international armed conflict should be made by the Parliament, and not by the Prime Minister or the Executive alone.”
Vietnam Veteran and vigil organiser Jack Thurgar SC MBE OAM RFD says, “The loss and grief that many veterans experienced is quite profound.”
“When you look around at the families of those who had lost their loved ones in Vietnam all those years ago, they too suffered and experienced the same loss.” he said.
As part of today’s Vigil surviving veterans, family members, or friends will visit the graves of all 523 soldiers who were killed or died on active service in Vietnam.
Many veterans and others in the community believe our involvement in Vietnam was based on lies and that in the intervening years an effort has been underway to sanitise history.
“We need to change the way we go to war. It can’t be left up to a small number of people in the cabinet. The whole Parliament should make that decision,” Mr Thurgar said.
– AWPR Media Release