Saturday, May 10, 2008

Vietnam

Tribute08 is 'A Vietnam Commemoration honouring veterans' and their families' contribution to New Zealand'. It is being held over Labour weekend in Welling and it's symbol looks like that:A poppy and a Pohutakawa - two flowers that are not native to Vietnam.* But then neither were the New Zealand troops that went over and killed Vietnamese people.

I don't understand why I even have to write that.

Vietnam Veterans are in a shitty position. They were sent to kill and to be killed in a war the government couldn't sell. They come home, and their health has been damaged by Agent Orange (and the general war-like tendancies of war). I completely support the work of Vietnam veterans to hold the government to account for the health effects of Agent Orange. But that doesn't make what happened to them a 'contribution' that needs to be 'honoured'.

These sorts of weasel words cover up the horrific reality of war, that's what they're designed to do. Vague patriotism covers the important questions ("what the hell were we doing there?"). If those questions aren't asked then it's all the easier for the government to do it again and tis government sent troops to Afganistan and Iraq.

*I'm not a poppy expert. Maybe some poppies are native to Vietnam. If so I really don't think the RSA red paper poppy grows there naturally.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:46 pm

    I've been thinking a lot about veterans recently. You have probably heard about the huge numbers of suicides amongst those who have returned from Iraq. Have you heard about the recent Winter Solidier event, organised by Iraqi Veterans Against the War, where veterans who have served in Iraq, Afganistan, and also at Guatanamo give testimonials about their experiences? You can listen to it at warcomeshome.org.
    It is heartbreaking but really important I think.

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  2. Anonymous12:03 am

    They weren't 'sent', they went of their own accord. That's right, they were all volunteers. No sympathy from me, not even re: Agent Orange - their suffering at the hands of Agent Orange is nothing compared to that of the Vietnamese people, but you don't see them asking for any compensation to be sent to Vietnam.

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  3. James2:04 pm

    They went to stop the murdering Communists of the North from invading and imposing a worse dictatorship than already existed.

    That they failed to do so left the South Vietnamese to suffer and die in the death camps the North set up in the jungle where even loyal Viet Cong were sent to as they were regarded as a threat to the new order...

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  4. When NZ withdrew its troops the trauma for many of us was just beginning. We were brought back on a civilian aircraft in civilian clothes and were told to get off the aircraft and go away. The official word from the army was not to tell anyone you'd been in Vietnam. We were aliens in our own country. A march down Queen Street in Auckland turned into a riot. We were pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables. People were screaming out 'baby killers!' That wasn't much good for the psychological state of the soldiers who had just returned from a war zone. Some returned soldiers suffered physical and psychological injuries. I would think the problems (for vets) have been created out of neglect. Neglect on the part of the government, neglect on the part of society and to some extent neglect on the part of the army."

    Rick Thame Victor Five Coy


    Helen Clark, Phil Goff and a large number of other Labour Party members are going to "apologise" on behalf of the New Zealand Government this Thursday 29 2008 over Vietnam Veteran's appalling treatment by the government of the time and subsequent administrations. There was no government assistance for soldiers as there was in other wars, no welcome home, no acknowledgment of the bravery shown in battle against the Vietcong and they were told to shut their mouths and not talk about their horror again.

    Many Vets committed suicide, became hospitalized with mental problems and have a myriad of health problems. Some of these things also happened to subsequent generations of family members.

    They will never forget what happened, during the war and after.

    I just have one question.

    Will Helen Clark, Phil Goff and her Labour colleagues personally apologise for spitting in the soldiers faces during the Queen Street riots?

    It must be election year.

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