After many months of planning, which commenced on ANZAC Day 2003, the Memorial Project was officially launched in April 2004 with a car raffle and public appeal. The aim was to construct a truly significant memorial to remember the contribution of all those who served in the Vietnam War and to particularly acknowledge the fifty-eight South Australians who made the supreme sacrifice.
The project was a joint venture between the Returned and Services League, Vietnamese Veterans’ Association, Vietnam Veterans’ Federation and Vietnam Veterans’ Association. For the first time these groups joined together as one to ensure that the service of all Vietnam Veterans will never be forgotten. Moreover it recognises the camaraderie enjoyed by veterans of Australia and South Vietnam during the war and which still exists today.
Local sculptor and Vietnam Veteran James Martin and bronze caster Tim Thompson have created a magnificent sculpture of an Australian Digger and his Vietnamese comrade. They are seen returning from a clearing patrol and are now in a reflective mood, looking into the distance, contemplating the future. This imposing structure stands nearly five metres tall and is located in the military heartland of the State – Torrens Parade Ground, an entirely appropriate location.
This memorial will not only remember all those who gave their lives, but will ensure that future generations understand that the contribution of Vietnam Veterans was equal to that of their forebears and must never be forgotten. In a broader sense the memorial recognises the terrible loss suffered by our Vietnamese community and the wonderful contribution they have made to their new home in Australia. The memorial is entirely South Australian made – even the pavers, although engraved interstate, were made here. They have been a very successful fund-raising venture and provide a way for all to be remembered and recognised.
For many South Australians this is the final acknowledgement of the Vietnam War – the first being the Welcome Home Parade in Sydney in 1987 and the second the erection of the National Memorial in Canberra in 1992. The Memorial Committee sincerely thanks everyone for their attendance at the unveiling and dedication ceremony and also expresses its gratitude to the many organisations that have made this memorial a reality.
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