Fall of Saigon Commemoration

05 May, 2022

The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:53): I rise today to speak about the 47th Black April commemoration.

The Vietnam War had changed the world forever. Known as Black April, the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon marks a dark time for South Vietnamese people, when the capital of the Republic of Vietnam was captured by North Vietnamese forces, marking the end of the Vietnam War. An estimated 2 million people initially sought refuge in refugee camps in South-East Asia and later resettling in Australia, the United States, France and Canada.

As honourable members know, Australia's military involvement in the Vietnam war was the longest in duration of any war in our country's history. It lasted from August 1962 until May 1975.

As the new shadow minister for multicultural South Australia and for communities, I sincerely thank the Vietnamese Community in Australia together with the Vietnamese Veterans Association of South Australia for the invitation and the privilege to join the community to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon on Saturday 30 April 2022.

It was a cold, chilly autumn morning where Vietnamese veterans and their families gathered in solidarity to pay tribute and respect at the solemn wreath laying ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial at the Torrens Parade Ground.

Following the morning's service, I also had the honour to represent the Liberal Party leader in the other place, the Hon. David Speirs, at another important commemoration at the Vietnamese Community Centre.

I had the privilege to join our respected Vietnamese community and special guests to unveil the new memorial to honour the patriotic generals of the Republic of Vietnam and pay respect to the brave men and women freedom fighters who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.

The new memorial monument provided a meaningful centrepiece for a moving ceremony where the Vietnamese community was joined by invited dignitaries, together with Vietnamese and Australian veterans, for wreath laying and the offering of incense to honour fallen soldiers and Vietnamese war heroes for their bravery, loyalty and sacrifice.

The vision for the construction of this important memorial monument was brought to my attention by the president and committee of the Vietnamese Veterans Association of South Australia in 2019.

The Association, with the unwavering support of the Vietnamese Community in Australia SA Chapter, sought to create a memorial on the home ground of the Vietnamese Community Centre to preserve Vietnamese traditions and to honour the past. It was a great honour to support this important construction project through a Multicultural Affairs Grant under the Marshall Liberal Government.

The monument is an inspiring tribute to five courageous generals of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, along with all members of the South Vietnamese armed forces who defended their country until the very end. Their legacy, sense of responsibility and spirit of duty to their country and their people must be remembered, and it is so heartening that this vision has been implemented by the Vietnamese community of South Australia.

I wish to acknowledge the leadership of Mr Linh Dang Nguyen, President of VCASA, along with Mr Dinh Duy Ninh OAM, President of the Vietnamese Veterans Association of SA, past and present committee members and volunteers of both organisations for their incredible hard work and dedication in securing funding and sponsorship to install this significant monument for the community.

It was certainly an emotional day where members of the Vietnamese community reflected on the pain, brutality and injustice of the Vietnam War and to today still grieve the loss of their loved ones, their beloved homeland and the horrible sacrifices of those who fell in battle and those who lost their freedom and human rights in retaliation following Black April.

Through speeches delivered by both presidents, the Vietnamese community reflected on the past and expressed their gratitude towards Australia and the Australian people for standing shoulder to shoulder with the South Vietnamese people during the war and for offering a safe haven and a new home in Australia for thousands of refugees.

We recognise that Australia continues to benefit greatly from the significant contributions made by the hardworking and resilient Vietnamese community over the last 47 years. We are incredibly grateful for their remarkable contributions in every aspect of our multicultural society. It was an honour to attend their commemoration.