On 3 October 1987, after a Dawn Service held at the Cenotaph in Martin Place, 22,000 Vietnam ...

Accession Number PAIU1987/222.15
Collection type Photograph
Object type Negative
Maker West, Peter David
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made 3 October 1987
Conflict Period 1980-1989
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

On 3 October 1987, after a Dawn Service held at the Cenotaph in Martin Place, 22,000 Vietnam veterans marched through the streets of Sydney in the Australian Vietnam Forces Welcome Home Parade. Veterans assembled in the Domain before marching through the city, passing enthusiastic crowds lining the streets along the route, in some places ten deep. More than 500 Australian flags, each representing an Australian soldier killed in the Vietnam War, were carried by relatives and friends at the head of the parade, the staff of each flag bearing a metal plaque engraved with a serviceman's name and unit. Large groups of American, South Korean, Vietnamese and New Zealand veterans participated, along with members of Australian civilian medical and surgical teams, entertainers, and war correspondents. The march concluded with participants applauded from the steps of Town Hall by Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, armed forces chiefs, and other dignitaries.

Organised by the Australian Vietnam Veterans Association, the parade was among the events held for Vietnam veterans that weekend. While many units had marched through the streets on their return to Australia, many in the Vietnam veteran community felt Australian society did not respect or recognise their service. Addressing the RSL Conference in August 1987, Prime Minister Hawke noted: “I firmly believe that the October parade will be the culmination of a long process of reconciliation and community acceptance of its obligations to the veterans of Vietnam. I believe we must honestly acknowledge that our involvement in Vietnam did cause deep divisions in the Australian community. But whatever our individual views on the merits of Australian involvement, we must equally acknowledge the commitment, courage and integrity of our armed forces who served in Vietnam.”

This image is one of a series captured by Australian War Memorial photographers who travelled from Canberra to document the event.