Vietnam War Memorial in Wheelahan Gardens, Sunshine was vandalised on the eve of the Vietnam Veterans Day
Yesterday afternoon, members of the Vietnam veterans and the Vietnamese community in Victoria learnt that the Vietnam War memorial in Sunshine, built and dedicated just in December last year, has been vandalised.
The memorial was partnership between the Vietnamese Community in Victoria, the Sunshine RSL, Brimbank Council, Footscray RSL and Vietnam Veterans. It was also strongly supported by the Victorian RSL. Members of the Vietnamese community put their donations together to build this memorial, to pay tribute to the fallen Australian soldiers who died serving in Vietnam.
At the Dedication Day in December last year, the Vietnamese community paid tribute to the Vietnam Veterans, their widows, children, and many members of the RSLs near and far, and expressed our gratitude to the young men who served and who died so bravely to protect the Vietnamese people in a country so far and so foreign to them.
“We are absolutely gutted, on the eve of the Vietnam Veterans Day, that someone could commit this disgraceful act to our fallen Diggers. It is the Vietnamese custom that once a person dies, their resting or memorial places must be respected, including those belong to you enemies. I am disgusted by this despicable behaviour”. Said Phong Nguyen, Chair of the Vietnamese Cultural & Heritage Centre.
Members of the Vietnamese Veterans community are particularly saddened and shocked by this vandalism. “Why can’t we express our gratitude to the soldiers whose lives were not fully lived, so that we can? It is unimaginable that we not able to thank Australia or be left in peace to pay respect to our fallen brothers-in-arms at memorials like this”. Said Dan Hoang, President of the Vietnamese Veterans Association of Victoria.
The memorial was deliberately built on public land with the Brimbank Council’s support so that all members of the public can pay tribute to our fallen Diggers. It also features the Avenue of Honour for the WWI soldiers.
Incidents like this remind members of the Vietnamese community of other memorials, cemeteries and graves that have been deliberately destroyed or in their homeland Vietnam, the country they left behind in search for freedom, and in the refugee camps in Malaysia and Indonesia by the Vietnamese regime through diplomatic pressure. They are also reminded of the terrible memories of the Communist TET Offensive 50 years ago this year.
They are concerned and fearful of the perceived fear that their customs, those of gratitude, participation or contribution to this country is being restricted. This is something they know well having lived under a communist regime.
“This Memorial was the work of many Australians of Vietnamese background as a way to express our gratitude and the friendships that last long after the battlefields. It is heartbreaking, and the culprit will answer to the law. But for our community, this gratitude is forever in our hearts”. Viv Nguyen, President, Vietnamese Community in Victoria.
Lest We Forget.
For more information contact Garry Collins, President, Sunshine RSL 9311 6372 or Viv Nguyen, President VCA Vic 03 9689 8515 or 0412 188 920.