Commemoration focus shifting, says Minister

Not the most memorable output from Parliament House today, but worth noting nevertheless, was a media release from Minister for the Centenary of Anzac, Senator Michael Ronaldson, entitled ‘Funding round opens for Vietnam War Commemorative Grants’. The release provided details of how to apply for these grants, which have been announced previously.

The Minister went on to note that August 2016 would see the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, which would be the centrepiece of Australian commemoration of the Vietnam War. There were 42 Australian and 600 Vietnamese casualties at Long Tan. There were somewhere between one and three million military and civilian deaths during the Vietnam War.

Comment by David Stephens

The interesting sentence lay in the middle of the Minister’s release:

“Following the tremendous success of the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program in bringing communities together to remember and commemorate our First World War veterans, the focus is moving to other conflicts in which Australians played a role during our century of service,” Senator Ronaldson said. (Emphasis added)

The potential for such a shift of focus has always been present in the current commemorative round – we are commemorating both the centenary of Anzac and a century of service by our defence forces, after all – but it is interesting that the words about shifting focus come so soon after the poor turn-out for the Lone Pine commemoration. (For Lone Pine, see here, Update 4 September 2015: ‘Barking up Lone Pine’.) By talking up Vietnam War remembrance, the Minister may be taking out insurance against Great War commemoration fatigue. Other ministerial speeches were recently excerpted here.

14 September 2015

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