When Janice Heit set up her folding table and chairs on William Street on a draughty August day, it was to make sure people would never forget Australia’s Vietnam Veterans.
With a Vietnam scarf around her neck to promote the cause and ward off the chill, Mrs Heit arranged a small collection of merchandise on her table on 10 August, the week before Vietnam Veterans Day.
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The merchandise – caps, stubby coolers and badges – sat atop a crisp cotton Beaudesert RSL Women’s Auxiliary tablecloth, freshly ironed by Sub Branch Vice President Carol Castles.
Before Mrs Heit had even properly set up, she had sold four badges – such is the support from Beaudesert locals.
Mrs Heit, a founding member of the Beaudesert RSL Women’s Auxiliary and a devoted Sub Branch volunteer, has been buoyed by the support of locals for years.
As well as selling merchandise ahead of commemoration services throughout the year, she crafts items like a wooden cross with ‘lest we forget’ and poppies on it and candles to display at the memorials.
Mrs Heit said it was important to keep raising awareness about those who served.
“I think of all those who didn’t come back and those who did come back and struggled on a daily basis,” she said.
“You’ve got to try and understand what they went through. Vietnam Veterans’ Day is a very important day like Anzac Day, Remembrance Day, it’s something you can’t forget let alone get over.”
She spoke about her personal connection to Vietnam Veterans’ Day through her late husband Raymond Heit, who served in Vietnam.
“His nickname was Whisky and he used to run butcher shops,” she said.
“I think of him every day and I still miss him dearly – he passed away in 2008.”
Mrs Heit encouraged all locals to take the time to pause and reflect.
“We must never forget – a lot of veterans think they’re forgotten but they’re not,” she said.
“Sometimes veterans just need somebody to sit and listen, to take that time.”