Vietnam sacrifice

The names of hundreds of young men, and some women, are immortalised on honor boards and war memorials across the Hills.
It was important for communities to acknowledge and remember their own who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Last year Australia marked the centenary of Gallipoli and its first bloodied step as a nation.
Just recently we have looked back on the 100th anniversary of Australia’s involvement in the battles of the Western Front.
Last week the country marked the 50th anniversary of yet another wartime milestone – the Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam.
There wasn’t as much local fanfare but as the Vietnamese Government’s stance against the planned ceremonies at the battle site demonstrated, too much hype can sometimes be unwelcome.
But Long Tan was a moment in Australian history that is worth remembering.
It was a true battle against the odds where 108 soldiers faced overwhelming numbers – anywhere between 1500 and 2500 enemy – and survived thanks to bravery, training and air and artillery support.
A few low key services were held in the Hills and they meant a great deal to the local Vietnam veterans who attended.
Some were regular soldiers but many were national servicemen, young 21-year-olds whose birthdays came up in the tragic lottery of conscription.
Many of those who survived came home with external and internal scars.
Unlike their predecessors from WW1 and WW2, Vietnam veterans returned to a community consumed with anti-war sentiments that rejected what their uniforms represented.
Those attitudes eventually changed and Vietnam veterans are remembered in many Hills memorials.
Another 13 names were unveiled on a new Vietnam veterans plaque at the Macclesfield Anzac Memorial Gardens at the 50th anniversary service last week.
These veterans now have a site where their service is remembered and a place where they and their families can reflect.
Perhaps we should all take time to reflect because as a nation we continue to send new generations to war.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.