The Week: 3rd – 9th June

Here are a couple of images from the day-long 50th anniversary commemorations for the Battle of Binh Ba in Canberra on Thursday, which were broadcast live on TV. (If you’re an avid war history fan, you can still watch the whole thing online!)

The first one shows the Minister for Veterans and Defence on the left, and Vietnam veterans from the official party on the right. My father is the veteran in the centre. It was SO sunny that we were all blinded and melting by the end, despite it being the first week of winter!

Battle of Binh Ba 50th Anniversary Anzac Parade, Canberra, Australia 6th June 2019 Ray De Vere Chris Heaney Vietnam Veterans Vietnam War

The second image is from the Last Post ceremony at the Australian War Memorial the same evening. The ceremony was dedicated to Binh Ba veterans in general, and to the sole Australian killed in the fighting in particular. (There was also a British D-Day veteran present.) Afterwards, veterans and their families were lined up for a photograph – I’m one of the dots on the left of the picture!

Veterans and the families of those who served. Battle of Binh Ba, Vietnam, 50th anniversary. Last Post Ceremony #awmemorial cbr.

We had a formal dinner that night. You don’t know what it’s like to party until you’ve done it with Vietnam veterans! We overstayed our welcome in the ballroom, were moved up to the rooftop bar – and then overstayed our welcome there!

My Cover!

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

My review of Resurgent by Brynley Blake

Resurgent by Brynley Blake

Hey – Australians!

Batlle of Binh Ba Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Canberra Australia 5th June 2019

Everyone in Australia: at 2pm tomorrow the 50th anniversary commemorations for the Battle of Binh Ba – a major battle in the Vietnam War – are going to be broadcast live on television from Canberra, and then repeated the day after.

My father has played a huge part in organising this event, and hundreds of soldiers, past and present, are flying in to participate. My parents are in the official party, and will be obvious on TV, and I’ll be sitting… somewhere…! We’ve all been too busy to finalise this.

Afterwards, there’s a function at the Australian War Memorial, and then there’s a huge dinner tomorrow night, and I’ll be staying at the hotel in the city, because there’s just so much going on!

The Week: 12th – 18th November

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Some pictures from the Great Wall near Beijing, Jinan, and the Zibo district in China last week.

These past few months have been crazy. From winter to like-winter weather in Europe, to warm weather, to a heatwave in Canberra, to freezing China, to another heatwave in Canberra. I’m so confused where I am and what season it is! Now I’ve done my Christmas shopping (just in case things didn’t arrive in time), I sort of feel like it’s time for the year to end!

My review of A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

Another Book Community Gone?

A Jane Austen Christmas

Mr Darcy Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen Foil Christmas Card Sonya Heaney In the Past Zazzle Shop Silver Version 2

Poppies for Remembrance Day – 100 Years

Thousands of Poppies First world War One Sonya Heaney 11th November 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra.

Long Tan Cross

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Armageddon Seventy Years On

Poppies for Remembrance Day – 100 Years

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Thousands of Poppies First world War One Sonya Heaney 11th November 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra.

Thousands and thousands of handmade poppies at the Australian War Memorial for Remembrance Day, and a hundred years since the end of the First World War. Australia committed to the war before Britain even declared it, and Canberra turned on a sunny, hot, blue-skied, beautiful day for the occasion.

Because I live in Canberra, love history, and have a military father, I visit the War Memorial quite often. However, today was special, and because I’ve been overseas for much of the past few months, and today was the last day to see all the poppies before they go, (there are poppies at Parliament House, too, but they’re there for another week), I had to visit.

Long Tan Cross

Because I live in Canberra and have a former military father (and love history!), I spend quite a lot of time at the Australian War Memorial.

I went with my father today, half because of the occasion (one hundred years since the First World War ended) – to see the thousands and thousands of handmade poppies in the garden out the front (today was the last day for the exhibition), and half because I’m currently working on the memoirs of a Military Cross-winning Vietnam veteran (my father’s commander in the war), and he was heavily involved in the Long Tan dedication ceremony.

Long Tan is by far the most famous (infamous?) battle in Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, and my father knows people in the iconic photograph.

The cross arrived at the War Memorial not all that long ago, and this is the first time I’ve seen it in its special new room. Unfortunately that room – as they tried to make it a quiet place for reflection – is practically hidden, and I think most visitors will miss it…

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From the Shadows

The Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, (which is actually a big military museum, not just a “memorial”), currently has an exhibition about the Special Forces: From the Shadows. As Monday was a public holiday we thought we’d better go and see it before we forget and it closes!

When we arrived, the brand new Army recruits were on a visit from Kapooka, and lined up outside for a group photograph.

The first two images are from the Special Forces part. The third is from the Vietnam War section of the building (my father is a veteran, and there are exhibits dedicated specifically to where he lived in Vietnam, and to a major battle he fought).

The fourth photograph is the view down ANZAC Parade from the War Memorial entrance. You can’t see it, but at the end of the road is Lake Burley Griffin, and then Australian Parliament is in the background.

ANZAC Parade is the street where people honour Australia’s military, and where parades happen. Both sides of the street are lined with monuments to military events (e.g. the First and Second World Wars, Vietnam, and beyond).

Look at the spectacular blue sky! According to the national news, it was cloudy and raining in Canberra. Uh…

IMG_20180312_175846_799 From the Shadows Special Forces Exhibition Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180202_131 Vietnam War Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180445_236 Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces ANZAC Parade Parliament House

Anzac Day – Recommended Reads

Vietnam War Memorial Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 30th May 2015

Me on Anzac Parade, the huge, memorial-lined road that leads up to the museum.

Today is Anzac Day, Australia and new Zealand’s biggest day for our war veterans. The national ceremony at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra is televised, and before that there’s a dawn service (which I have never been to, despite coming from a family of veterans, but I always hear the neighbours getting up at about 4am!).

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We usually drop by the War Memorial a little later in the day and spend some time at the Vietnam War section.

I was trying to think of romance and suspense reads that involve Australian military or veterans, and came up with a few authors.

Hélène Young writes suspense books with some romance, and featuring Australian military characters.

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Barbara Hannay’s The Secret Years is set half in the Second World War and half in the present, and I really enjoyed it. The woman in the WW2 part is posted to the consulate in Canberra.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Sarah Mayberry has a really good book about a female veteran.

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

Joan Kilby’s Protecting her Son involves an Australian Special Forces veteran, and has a scene at the end set at the War Memorial above!

Protecting Her Son

Fiona Greene’s Home For Christmas – well, the cover and title tell you what you need to know!

Home For Christmas by Fiona Greene

Karly Lane writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, with some themes involving veterans.

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And, for Kiwi veteran heroes, there is Karina Bliss’ New Zealand Special Forces series, beginning with Here Comes the Groom.

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The Week: 26th September – 2nd October

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Stormy sky on the way home from Queanbeyan, NSW on Friday afternoon.

We had a public holiday on Monday, and I went out to the pub on Friday, so this seemed like a very short week! We have ANOTHER holiday this coming Monday, too!

I spent the public holiday visiting the Australian War Memorial, and then the Kingston Foreshore. It was a nice (if windy) day, but then the craziness started. South Australia had this freak storm, and the entire state lost power – South Australia is 1.5 times the size of Texas. The tail end of the storm reached us a couple of days later, which meant our Floriade spring festival and night festival had to be closed for a couple of days.

This time last year I was in full summer dress!

Congratulations to my cousin, who danced her final National Irish Dance Championships yesterday, held in Hobart this year.

This article disgusts me. Having been to school through the early John Howard years, where public education was stripped and stripped and stripped of money, to the point they couldn’t even afford to maintain the toilets, and all our textbooks were fifteen years out of date hand-me-downs from the private schools… I’m so angry about this:

Some private schools receive nearly three times the funding they are entitled to

In other countries it’s illegal to use government funding for private education!

That’s my rant for the week!

Australian War Memorial Canberra

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Lisa Kleypas’ Upcoming Book

Devil in Spring (2017) (The third book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas

The thirty-second anniversary of…

Ghost of a Chance by Jayne Ann Krentz

My review of Dark Fancy (Noble Passions #1) by Sabrina York

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My review of A Fabrication of the Truth by Katie Kaleski

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Elizabeth Gaskell’s Birthday

1832 portrait of English writer and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65)

Battle of Long Tan Cross in Canberra

We went to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra today to see the Long Tan cross. My Vietnam veteran father stood there a while looking at it before announcing that he’d seen the cross lots of times before. Apparently they used to drive past it all the time in Vietnam!

So… anticlimax there!

It also turns out that one of the men in the famous Long Tan photo that’s everywhere at the War Memorial was one of my father’s friends during the war. He is closest to the cross, on the left of the picture.

It was such a beautiful, sunny, warm day in Canberra, and the War Memorial is a great place. We detoured to see the two most recent Victoria Cross medals too – won by Special Forces soldiers Mark Donaldson and Benjamin Roberts-Smith.