This image is from the forecourt of Parliament .. and much more meaningful , important and haunting than yesterdays trivia.
37 New Zealand Army personnel were killed in the Vietnam War (or the American War as it is known in Vietnam) and this is the preparation for tomorrow's parade ... small easels for photographs of those who lost their lives doing what their country asked them to do. A haunting image that is a metaphor for the traumatic gaps it left for many families and the divisions it created in our society.
I protested against NZ involvment in the war while I was at University in Auckland, my family spent a month in Vietnam in 2004 ... and even to day I still feel saddened that as a country, we treated our own in such a deplorable manner, irrespective of what I may personnally think about war.
You may ask "Why a parade and commemoration NOW?"
The Vietnam War was New Zealand's most controversial military experience of the twentieth century and carried significant implications for subsequent policy-making and public debate about national security. The political & public climate at the time the soldiers returned to NZ was such that they re-entered NZ under cover of darkness and not in uniform .. there was no welcome home.
Roberto Rabel's volume on the diplomatic, political and social dimensions of New Zealand's involvement in this conflict, entitled New Zealand and the Vietnam War , was published in September 2005.
Work is also underway on the second volume of the official history of New Zealand 's involvement in the Vietnam War. This volume, written by Ian McGibbon, will cover the activities and experience of the New Zealanders who went to South Vietnam not only in military units but also in medical and aid teams. It will also address the problems experienced by Vietnam veterans in the aftermath of the war.
A reunion and shared memories
Tribute08 is a commemoration and reunion event for all New Zealand Vietnam Veterans and their families. Veterans from other forces that served in Vietnam will also attend. This event is of national significance with an international perspective and interest.
Tribute08 is in Wellington over Queens Birthday weekend from Friday 30 May to Sunday 1 June 2008. Main Venue and Tribute08 HQ is the TSB Bank Arena on Queens Wharf. See the full programme of events here, and the public events programme here.
Meeting old mates and sharing memories is a highlight of the weekend, particularly at the Family Gatherings and Sub-unit Family Reunions. It is also be a very special time for the families of Vietnam veterans.
An Exhibition: Not just a 12 month tour, will widen the overall experience and engage the general public.
The healing process that began with Parade '98 is continuing at Tribute08 with the very special Whakanoa ceremony.
A Concert: 'Good Night, Vietnam' enhances the feelings of camaraderie and sets the scene for Saturday night celebrations.
The Tribute08 Memorial and Commemorative Service on Sunday morning allows us to remember the fallen and to acknowledge the living in a spirit of reconciliation and understanding.
Tribute08, A Vietnam Commemoration is a unique opportunity to honour veterans and their families contribution to New Zealand.