I’m off to Vietnam for Xmas, two weeks of r ‘n’ r. I have this ‘facing my fears’ mentality about it. Having spent my childhood and adolescence in the sixties when the Vietnam War was raging; I was left with psychological scars which caused a lot of anxiety whenever the name was mentioned. It didn’t help that I had a brother who was in the army, in Vietnam as well. I’ve never spoken much about the traumatic experience and as I’ve got older it doesn’t bother me anymore.
Although it was a great concern having a loved one in a war, I think it was harder watching my mother suffer for those twelve months. Her constant worry was obvious and I think this affected me more than anything else.
National Service was compulsory back then and if you were unlucky to be born on the dates that were announced then you had no choice but to join the army. I often ‘tongue in cheek’ say that Gough Whitlam saved my life and of course many others. He abolished National Service when he won the election the year I was expecting to be called up.
At times I could be an angry young man but when it came to killing someone then I just couldn’t comprehend it. Even the thought of being brainwashed into being able to do it was unimaginable.
I just thought I’d get that off my chest before I visited Vietnam, which I hear is a very beautiful place.
Alan P Jackson