Why did it take so long for the Vietnamese Veterans to be recognized in Australia?

Essay by serjmolkoHigh School, 12th gradeA, September 2005

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When the Vietnam soldiers returned from war, they did not receive a warm and friendly welcome. They were targeted by anti-war protesters as being the enemy. They claimed that they were evil and wrong to fight in a war, which they thought was useless, and none of Australia's business. They thought that all Australia was doing was following America into war. The public all witnessed the daily footage of the war, horrible images of dead women and children, homes being destroyed and the battles themselves. Soldiers were spat on, criticized and rejected.

"We often felt betrayed by Australian society which questioned out sacrifice and actions. The lack of public welcome and recognition on our return added to this sense of betrayal."

The veterans always felt that extremists went out of the way to make life hard for them. They felt a 'dark cloud of rejection' by both the public and the government.

But why did the public harass the returning soldiers so much? In previous wars soldiers had major parades and were considered heroes by all. What made Vietnam so different? There are some notable differences between the two. In both the First World War and the Second, there was a definite and major enemy and threat, like Hitler. You could see the threat and evidence that his regime had to be stopped, but with Vietnam there was only a slight chance that it could affect Australia itself. The Vietnamese Communists never attacked Australia, not like Japanese threats and bombings in WWII.

Conscription also had a major effect on this issue. People felt that the men were being sent against their will and had no intention of signing up voluntarily like in previous wars. Another factor was that the soldiers were sent in regiments, not as a whole, there...