My dad fought in the Vietnam war. It wasn’t by choice. When he was 21-years-old, just a boy, his birthday was pulled out in the ballot.
He went to war while his mates surfed and drank bear at the pub, like 21 year-olds should.
Dad returned home to the place he grew up but it was next to impossible for him to just slot back into ‘normal’ life. How could he after his eyes had witnessed so much horror? Only in the past ten years has he started to talk about his time in Vietnam. I can still hear the anger in his voice when he talks about it. His youth was stripped from him for something he didn’t even believe in.
My dad now spends a lot of time in Vietnam working at an Orphanage teaching the kids swimming and English. He goes over to build them better facilities and raise money so the orphans with HIV can get across town to get the medication they need to stay alive. So many of the kids are still born with birth defects because of Agent Orange. I know my dad finds his work over there challenging but he is compelled to do it. I understand why.
I called Dad yesterday and told him I will be thinking about him today, on ANZAC day. I could hear him choking back the tears that flow more freely these days. He has no physical wounds from the war but he will forever be emotionally wounded, like all of the other men who stood with him.
My dad experienced something I will never be able to fully comprehend. Having two young boys of my own now makes it even harder to hear his stories, knowing they were his reality.
When I sat down with Sylvia jeffreys On The Couch we chatted about our dads, both who fought in Vietnam. The video is below.