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"No one is ever gonna tell [us] that it was all for nothing": the representation of Australia's Vietnam War in the mid-1980s mini-series Sword of honour and Vietnam
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 13:55 authored by Kate MacKinnon White
In 1980s Australia, the Vietnam War was characterised as a particularly divisive conflict in Australian history that sat outside the Anzac 'tradition' of Australian military history. The unique status of the war was primarily attributed to the narrative that veterans of the Vietnam War were not welcomed home on their return from war but were instead rejected by the RSL, the government and the Australian public. The idea that Vietnam veterans had been rejected was a narrative that was at its strongest during 1987, when two symbolic acts of reconciliation took place; Vietnam veterans led the 1987 Anzac Day parade and participated in a Welcome Home parade. Just months before these events, two mini-series about the war, Sword of Honour and Vietnam, were broadcast on Australian television. Through an analysis of the two mini-series, their reviews, news articles and production materials this thesis argues that the mini-series centralised the experiences of Vietnam soldiers as the focal point for the process of reconciling the tensions and divisions that arose because of Australia's military defeat in the Vietnam War. This thesis argues that the challenge that the war's loss made to the conventions of Australian military history were transformed to instead focus on the Vietnam soldier's/veteran's pain as a blameless victim of the war who was betrayed by the Australian public.