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Thank you Australia

An emptiness, a gap, a hole, a missing link or blank space is what we have felt all these years. Though we have settled down, have better lives and a foreseeable future, there has always been something deep down inside that continually urges us to seek something to fill those blank spaces. We have been haunted with the sense of "unfinished business" since we landed in this country, free and safe - where we enjoy simple freedoms and basic human rights that were denied to us by our homeland. At times, we pause, think and talk about it. At all times we feel a need and desire to express our appreciation and gratitude to these countries and their people who have welcomed us with open arms, open hearts and especially to remember and honour, those who died seeking freedom - to make our life whole.

Too often, people (want to) forget their past.
Too often, people don't remember those who crossed their path.
Too often, people show little concern about their own community.
Too often, people don't appreciate the help, support, love and care received.

However, we (the Vietnamese Refugee Community) would bear great guilt and feel unease if we were not able to show all those who have helped us in our journey. Our appreciation for rebuilding our lives, whilst always allowing us to remember those that have died.


As a gesture of respect and appreciation to the world, of remembering and honouring to those who perished we had built monuments in Malaysia (Pulau Bidong) and Indonesia (Galang). Unfortunately, they were destroyed by vile, disgusting, uncivilised and inhuman political powers (1). However we have the persistence to ensure those that have died are remembered and that our message of gratitude is received.

Specially for those who set out for freedom but never arrived at their destination, those who perished at high sea, in the jungle, raped, taken away or killed by pirates; their lives helped pave the way for our liberty so we can continue to live as a free people. They no longer have the ability to be heard. So, as fortunate survivors we would like to pay tribute to them and to express their feelings on their behalf.

The unveiling ceremony of the Vietnamese Boat People Monument of Gratitude in Footscray’s Jensen Reserve, Victoria (2) is a special occasion for so many of us who gather here on this solemn day. It does not matter whether you can speak Vietnamese, it does not matter whether you can express yourself properly in English, it does not matter what religion you belong to, it does not matter what background you are from, what does matter is that people understand, feel and embrace the appreciation, love and respect. This is one of special events in their life's journey.

We now have the opportunity to remember and to honour those who perished and to thank those who have unconditionally helped and supported us. We pray for peace for the souls of those who died, the happiness for those to whom we owe our freedom. This gesture would also help heal the physical and emotional scars carved deep in our shattered lives with bitter and traumatic experiences.

This monument is a better way to express such deep feelings of gratitude, remembrance, and celebration. This monument is an honoured and historic place for those who died, those who are still alive and those who have nurtured us with love and generosity. And most importantly this monument is to preserve and promote the lasting legacy of understanding, compassion, inspiration, pride and hope for future generations.

Freedom that we’ve been denied
Freedom that we have no rights
Freedom that we have long sighs
Freedom that we have to set out to find
Freedom that we have to cry
Freedom that we have to fight
Freedom that we have to die
Freedom that we have to pay the ultimate price!
Thanks for being nice
Thanks for being kind
Thanks for your smiles
Thanks for your love through the eyes
Thanks for providing the light
Thanks for opening up the sky
Thanks for the human rights
Thanks for giving us a life!

Thanks Australia!

N Nguyen
(21st June 2008)


(1) Below are links containing the information about this event -

The engraving on the monument erected in Malaysia and Indonesia reads on one side -
"In commemoration of the hundred of thousand of
Vietnamese people who perished on the way to
Freedom (1975-1996).

Though they died of hunger or thirst, of being raped,
of exhaustion or of any other cause, we pray that they
may now enjoying lasting peace.
Their sacrifice will never be forgotten."

And on the other side

“In appreciation of the efforts of UNCHR, the Red Cross
and Malaysian Red Crescent Society and other world
relief organizations, the Malaysian Government and people
as well as countries of first asylum and resettlement.
We also express our gratitude to the thousands of individuals
who worked hard in helping the Vietnamese refugees.”

(2) On the monument erected in Footscray’s Jensen Reserve, Victoria, Australia

The content of Gratitude reads

“With gratitude for the humanitarian efforts of the Australian people and Australian government, of the world-wide relief organizations and thousands of individuals who assisted in settling the Vietnamese refugees in Australia.”

The content of Commemoration reads

“In commemoration of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people who perished in pursuit of freedom (1975-1996). Whatever the cause may be: hunger or thirst, wreckages or pirates, sickness or exhaustion, we all pray that they may now rest in peace. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Posted on 23 Jun 2008

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