We sent them off to fight in a far off distant land
DID YOU SERVE IN VIETNAM?
We put all the dates on marbles and we drew them one by one
That’s how the Government decided just who would take up the gun
And if your birthday coincided, you received a telegram
That meant you would be trained and sent to fight in Vietnam
A living hell’s what faced you if your number had been drawn
And many conscripts wished to hell they never had been born
For no matter what these fellas thought, they were in a no-win situation
Were they fighting for Australia, or invading someone else’s nation.
They trained here in Australia, then were packed off overseas
To be shot at, bombed and booby-trapped by the Vietnamese
And to do the same to Viet-cong before they did it to you
No-one liked what they were doing but it was what they had to do.
Burn the villages, kill the cattle, ignore the horrors you had seen
Spending months in sweaty jungles, without getting to feel clean
Wading swamps and climbing mountains to get an edge upon the foe
Then attack and take no prisoners – just the same as G I Joe
You got letters from your family, but the papers were not sent
Perhaps some clippings now and then, and you wondered what that meant
But your families tried to hide you from the headlines over here
For you didn’t have the backing of the people far and near.
You risked your lives most every day, and orders you obeyed
As ours Diggers had done in the past, that’s how heroes had been made
And you saw your mates as heroes in the things they had to do
Though what they did while “over there” was no different to you.
Your girlfriend didn’t wait for you – “well, who knows if he’ll come back?”
And you lost some darn good mates in an enemy attack
But the damage that would hurt you most was not from the Viet Cong
More the Aussies who took to the streets, proclaiming you were wrong
You fought your fears most every day, and every night as well
Tried every trick to stay alive, and bring back stories you could tell
But when you came back to Australia, you were not held up on high
You were scorned and classed as outcasts – and you did not know why.
The horrors that had etched your mind were eating at you still
As if you hadn’t had enough – you’d more than had your fill
You should have been held as heroes –it’s what you had expected
But now you were political pawns, far worse than just neglected.
Some mates who’d fought beside you, when you were “over there”
Went off the rails when they came home and no-one seemed to care
While others shrunk inside themselves - to not come out again
With nothing like it was before, and that was very plain.
The stories you brought back with you, you’ve never told as yet
Now you wish you didn’t have those tales, although you can’t forget
For those who were not there with you in that hellish foreign land
Could never in a million years even part way understand
And I wonder, what can I do, as one who wasn’t there
To help you feel accepted, to let you know I care
To let you know that we were wrong – those back home I mean
And to put you on the pedestal where you should have always been
I’m not a man of influence, but I’ll do the best I can
To keep you on par with every honoured Aussie man
Who has done the best he could’ve as each circumstance demands
For I’m proud of what you fellas did, and I’m proud to shake your hands.