Thank you soldiers!

It's been a deep desire in me, for almost forever, to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to the dead and alive Australian and American soldiers.

It’s been a deep desire in me, for almost forever, to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to the dead and alive Australian and American soldiers.

Every year, I always buy the commemorative souvenirs for ANZAC, Remembrance Day and Legacy Week. The sights of those souvenir selling stalls at shopping malls make me feel bereft and grieving for the fallen Australian servicemen and servicewomen.

I didn’t have any memory of the Australian Army during the Vietnam war. The top two storeys above my family’s house together with the houses in two building blocks either side of An Dong market were occupied by the GIs. I was often given candies by the GIs passing by while I was playing outside my house. I remember fondly those American advisers who greeted me warmly when my father took me to his workplace at Saigon Headquarters.

I was very grateful to America for sending their forces to help South Vietnam fight the Communists. 

For a long time, America evoked warm fraternal feelings in me, as if it was a big brother looking after the young and bullied South Vietnam. I wanted to resettle in America after escaping from Vietnam. I was in deep sorrow after the September 11th attacks, just as if a very close friend was under attack.

In later years, when I connected to the Internet, I felt horrified to learn of the massacre at My Lai. Yet for that crime, what America did for the South was still too great to hate it.

I didn’t know of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war until four years after I arrived here. 

Given the co-operation between South Vietnam and Australia in the fight against the Vietnamese Communists, I expected warm greetings from my Australian acquaintances when I emailed them. I spoke of how proud I was of my father who always marched with other Vietnamese veterans on ANZAC day. Instead I was shocked when one wrote back telling me that all the wars were barbaric and there wasn’t anything so glorious about them.

At the writers group that I joined in recent years, I heard the phrase “all the way with LBJ” and realised that my stories about the South Vietnam before and after the fall of Saigon reminded the group of the Vietnam war, the war that most Australians hated to be involved with.

In conversations with an Australian friend, I was made aware that it was normal for South Vietnam and its people to like America’s involvement but Australia was reluctantly dragged into the war because of its subservient and dependent allied relationship with America. In my naïve mind until then both Australia and America were both free world allies but gradually I began to understand why Australia dislikes America. My friend also told me that Australians felt that the Vietnam war was not their war. I was upset to hear that Australia didn’t care about communism. I told myself that this was likely because Australia hadn’t experience communism before.

I have a friend whose son served in Afghanistan and now is suffering from PTSD and is afraid of sitting in a restaurant because of all the noises.

These days I feel I understand how Australians felt at the time. Unless it affects my now country – Australia – I wouldn’t like my teenage and adult sons to fight in a war between two forces from within the same foreign country just because of their different religious ideologies, even though one side is evil, because I don’t understand their religions.

There is an eternal struggle between good and evil. Should the world take responsibility instead of the greatest amongst the good to fight all the evils? I can see that America has been involved in too many conflicts due to the world’s perception of it as a “beacon and guarantor of freedom” as well as “the sheriff”. I wonder if America ever feels exhausted.

I wore my head band made of poppy flowers to work on the 100th Remembrance Day. I printed the poem “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon and placed it on a visible area on my desk so I could have an occasional glance at it. Besides the famous stanzas that are always 
recited at every remembrance ceremony, my favourite lines are:

“They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.”

It’s forever a deep desire inside me to express my gratitude from the heart to the dead and alive past Australian and American soldiers but I feel that my Facebook comments are not enough, that they will just conjure bitterness in the people who were conscripted and got wounded for their country. The people who received hostile receptions on their return from their own people, and now don’t get due care from the government that sent them to war.

To those that fought in the Vietnam war, I eternally want to say: “Thank you soldiers!”.

A Spring morning,
The grieving ode,
Does bring sorrow.
The inflow pain,
Shadow the Remembrance Day.

Men with blond hair,
Men with fair skin,
With bare courage,
The savage wars,
Ravage their souls and bodies.

To those who died,
Were denied thanks,
Who tried to fight,
Vietnam tight war,
Despite the plight, South Vietnam thanks you!
(Yadu-style poem)

Image credit
by June Yaham.

It's been a deep desire in me, for almost forever, to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to the dead and alive Australian and American soldiers.

It’s been a deep desire in me, for almost forever, to express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart to the dead and alive Australian and American soldiers.

Thank you soldiers! poem

image

(Yadu-style poem)

A Spring morning,
The grieving ode,
Does bring sorrow.
An inflow pain
Shadows the Remembrance Day.

Men with blond hair,
Men with fair skin,
With bare courage,
The savage wars
Ravage their souls and bodies.

To those who died,
Were denied thanks,
Who tried to fight,
Vietnam tight war,
Despite the plight, South Vietnam thanks you!

Image credit
by hiMe.

image

Dark Red shadows

I came to Australia to escape the communist hell, but many knew that some of those demons made the journey too.

I came to Australia to escape the communist hell, but many knew that some of those demons made the journey too.

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – How I came here.

After the Fall of Saigon, my father was ill-treated in communist hard-labour camps, where many of his colleagues died, because he was a Signal Corps Lieutenant Colonel. Many former military officers’ houses were forfeited, and their families were forced to relocate to the new economic zones.

The local government told Mum they wanted to take two storeys of our four-storey house and turn it into an administration office. Mum realised that their next step would be stripping us of our house completely and forcing us to move. At the time Mum had approximately 7kg of gold – earned from years working as children’s wear producer/wholesaler – stockpiled and hidden, so she took some and bribed the local officials to leave our house alone. Then, together with her sister, Mum opened a ‘co-operative clothing factory’ at our house. Regardless, the fear of losing the house never left our minds. But wait there’s more!

Saigon’s Seasons in the Sun’s related information

image

<<Story related to the information>>

Listen to: (Link to phamduy.com Ngàn lời ca khác – Nhạc Pop 60-70).

But wait there’s more!

The deserted neighbourhood’s related information

The Huey Fong which carried over 3,300 passengers of ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong harbour December 1978. (Picture taken from http://thewangpost.com/interview-don-lao-author-i-became-the-boat-people/)

The Huey Fong which carried over 3,300 passengers of ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong harbour December 1978. (Picture taken from http://thewangpost.com/interview-don-lao-author-i-became-the-boat-people/)

<<Story related to the information>>

In 1978, the Vietnamese Communists wanted to get rid of ethnic Chinese who could become a Trojan horse inside Vietnam as the war with China loomed large. But wait there’s more!

Saigon’s Seasons in the Sun

My childhood memories in Saigon come alive whenever the Seasons in the Sun song is sung.

My childhood memories in Saigon come alive whenever the Seasons in the Sun song is sung.

<<Facts, pictures, video clips related to the story – 70s MP3 Western songs sang in Vietnam, Vietnamese singers and Saigon’s looks then>>

Comments about this post on ABC Open 500 words – Lost in music.

“We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, But the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time.” Every time I heard the “Seasons in the Sun” song, my mind is flooded with memories of my childhood before the Fall of Saigon. But wait there’s more!

The glare of racism!

I have come to accept racism in this country in exchange for freedom after escaping from the Vietnamese Communists.

I have come to accept racism in this country in exchange for freedom after escaping from the Vietnamese Communists.

Comments about this post on ABC Open DRUM – Casual Racism.

Arriving in Australia from a Malaysian refugee camp in April 1984, I stayed at a six-bedroom parish house in Burwood, Victoria together with thirteen other Vietnamese refugees. On Christmas Day that year, when I was alone in the house, the parish priest took me along to an Australian parishioner’s house and I had my very first Australian Christmas lunch there. It was a frosty lunch as no one spoke a word to me. More than thirty years later, I still wonder why those Australians were cold to me. But wait therre’s more!

My very first and frosty Australian Christmas lunch

It was a frosty Christmas lunch and the very first for me - a Vietnamese refugee.

It was a frosty Christmas lunch and the very first for me – a Vietnamese refugee.

Coming from a refugee camp in Malaysia, I arrived in Australia at the end of April 1984. After staying a week at Enterprise Hostel, Springvale, Melbourne, Sister Petite Peach took me to a six-bedroom Burwood-parish house that accommodated thirteen Catholic Vietnamese refugees and me – a Buddhist. But wait there’s more!