By Kath Gannaway
Vietnam Veterans were honoured with a tribute song written and performed for the first time in public by the Dandenong Ranges Music Council as part of Vietnam Veterans Day commemorations in Lilydale on Sunday 12 August.
Forgotten Heroes, written by Cath Russell and Peter de Ryk, has a chorus that speaks of the experience and the legacy of the young men who were called to fight in Vietnam, reflecting much of what the day was about.
“And you gotta understand
They dragged us through a fire
Burned innocence from our eyes
Boys never came back
And you gotta understand
Who we were when we came back
And who we are now
The song followed the DRMC’s Bells of Peace project, which paid tribute to World War I veterans.
“The Vietnam Veterans said ‘it’s great, but what about us?’,” DRMC’s Bev McAllister said.
Over four workshops with the veterans involving intense conversations about their time before, during and after the war, the song was written.
Lilydale RSL hosted Vietnam Veterans Day this year, with the veterans marching to the Lilydale Cenotaph.
Guest speaker, Major Kenneth Mackenzie OAM (Rtd), spoke of the battles and loss of life in Vietnam, the treatment of veterans back home throughout the war and on their return, and of the political environment of the day.
“Like our fathers and grandfathers before us, we have not forgotten who we are or why we are here today,” he said.
“Each and every one of you can be enormously proud of the contribution and your service to Australia.
“I am deeply honoured to have served with you.”
Vietnam Veterans Day is an initiative of the Vietnam Veterans Community, Outer Eastern Melbourne Sub-branch of the VVAA, Healesville, Croydon, Lilydale, Marysville, Mount Evelyn, Upper Yarra, Warburton and Yarra Glen RSLs and the Outer Eastern and Yarra Valley Sub-branch of the NSAA.
Listen to the song: