TAKE a walk through the trees in Settlers Park this Vietnam Veterans Day.
Work on the first living memorial to the 504 service personnel who died serving their country during the war began in the late 1980s.
A letter from the AVF was sent to council in 1989, which asked for a national memorial to recognise "those young Australians who fought, suffered and died in South Vietnam".
The idea for a local memorial was taken on by Bowral Vietnam Memorial Trust chairman Effie Kerr and in 1995 a five-kilometre walkway "through parkland and alongside a river, bordered on both sides by great white cherry trees grown to form an archway" was proposed by Bowral Parks and Gardens' Advisory Committee.
The Prunus 'Tai Haku' cherry trees were chosen because the variety grows to 12 metres in height and it originates from the East, tying it to Vietnam.
At the time, state opposition leader Peter Collins offered his support, and said he believed it was an appropriate form of recognition for Vietnam veterans whom he described as "the forgotten army, often swept under the carpet".
"Bowral is synonymous with gardens and there could be no more appropriate way for Bowral to make a contribution," he said.
The first trees were planted May 20, 1996, by the then-mayor Jim Tuddenham and 1RAR comrades John Cummins, Barry Brown, Mal Collinson, Richard Roe and Merv Wilson.
Other tree planters were John Griggs (1 Field Regiment RAA Vietnam), Geoff McBean, Graham Tooth and John Paddison.
Effie Kerr received a touching hug during the next stage of planting in May, 1997.
"He was crying and told me he would continue to come back again and again every year," she said.
Sir Robert Cotton planted a special tree during the 1997 stage for his nephew Tony Heulin, who died while serving the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam 2nd contingent on January 3, 1969.
The Trust received a $2500 federal government grant in 1998 to fund the memorial monument in Settlers Park.
Since its completion, the memorial has been the site for Vietnam Veterans Day commemorations and the cherry trees along the walk have continued to grow.
So take the time to walk the path and reflect on the lives lost during this contentious war in our history.
Vietnam Veterans Day is August 18.
Information for this story was gathered from the archives of the Berrima District Historical and Family Society (BDH&FHS).