'It's really important for the second generation to learn the history of what happened.' - Vivienne Nguyen
VIVIENNE Nguyen rolled her eyes and tried her best not to listen whenever her father mentioned the war.
The daughter of an interpreter for the US Army, she turned red whenever he decided it was time for her to learn the truth about the Vietnam war.
As an adult, Ms Nguyen came to realise her father was right all along.
She joined and then became vice-president of the Vietnamese Community in Australia's Victorian chapter.
She now implores Greater Dandenong's extensive Vietnamese community to visit a free exhibition - marking the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam conflict - to "learn the truth about what happened".
"The younger people don't care. They say, 'we're in a new country'," Ms Nguyen said. "But it's really important for the second generation to learn the history of what happened - regardless of whether it was right."
Vietnam veteran John Wells said he didn't see the war "as a bad thing - you can't keep living in the past".
"A lot of the Vietnamese are more patriotic than those born here in my opinion, as they see living here as a kind of second chance."
Mr Wells, who has a long-time involvement with several RSLs including Dandenong, longs for the day when Vietnamese veterans of the conflict don't see themselves as an "other". "For too long the Vietnamese sections of the RSL have had their own little sections, divided from everyone else.
"They're Australian citizens and pay their taxes just like everyone else [in the RSL] and it's about time they feel just as important."
The exhibition runs from August 17-19 during which
guests will learn about the co-operation between Australian and South Vietnamese soldiers, the battles including the famous Long Tan confrontation, and the tales of Vietnamese refugees' trips to Australia.
"It will finish with a candle lighting," Ms Nguyen said. "We think that's a nice way to thank the Australians."
The exhibition is at Melbourne Town Hall from August 17-19 and is open 9am-5pm. Details: Viv Nguyen, 0412188920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.