The saga of commemorations by the Australians for the Battle of Long Tan continues. Last year the Vietnamese government jerked back the welcome mat at the last minute for an entourage of ANZAC veterans who made the trip all the way back to Vung Tau to pay their respects to their fallen. According to a story in The Northern Star of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia titled: Anzac Day ceremony at Long Tan now uncertain that was submitted by Alison Paterson, the Vietnamese are equally reticent about welcoming a Long Tan commemoration service this year.
As a reminder the Battle of Long Tan took place on August 18, 1966. An Aussie company of 108 men encountered a force of 2,000 Viet Cong fighters in the Long Tan rubber plantation and the battle began. When the dust cleared it was determined the Aussies had suffered eighteen dead and twenty four wounded. They found 245 VC dead bodies. There were probably more VC casualties because they would normally remove as many of their dead as possible to minimize the body count.
In Paterson’s story Reverend Graham Davis OAM (Order of Australian Medal) is highlighted. He served in the battle and today is a permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church. He would like to attend commemoration ceremonies at the Long Tan Cross Monument in Vietnam if the locals will allow it to happen.
Reverend Davis commented on the situation as follows:
“However, we (Vietnam Veterans) have got over that, we respect them and now they are our friends and if the politicians want to argue, they shouldn’t drag in veterans of both sides.”
His feelings about the matter are that more resources should be allocated to helping veterans of more recent wars.
Reverend Davis’s opinion about forgiveness of former enemies is a very important message for all to follow.