Sunday, 11 November 2007

Remembrance Day

This is my tribute for Remembrance Day. It's dedicated to all servicemen and women, but particularly to those who served in Infantry -


Each man eases
Pack down, webbing loose
Flares his rationed smoke.
Each man watches
Steel point bamboo stabs
Avoids all other eyes.

Radio hisses
Skipper checks the map
Flicks his compass open
Squints at the scrub
Stink of sweat and fear
Our shared reality

Move now!
The signal curses down the line.
I heave my pack again.


Anonymous said...

By Anita Quigley

November 14, 2007 12:00am

THE Ode of Apathy:

They shall grow very old, as we that are left don't care;

Age shall not endear them, nor the years be kind.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will just forget them.

This was the ode adhered to in shopping centres across the country last Sunday.

Consumers too busy in their little materialistic worlds couldn't give a minute of their time to acknowledge the men and women who sacrificed their lives, their health and their futures so that we could benefit from the freedom and democracy in which we are fortunate enough to live.

Not even the loudspeaker announcing that it was time to observe Remembrance Day distracted some customers at Chatswood Chase from their buying frenzy.

While many decent Australians did pause for the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that marks the time the World War I armistice became effective, most at this shopping hub did not.

Even as the Ode of Remembrance was clearly read aloud, they kept on walking, talking, quaffing their lattes and selecting that "must have" new designer shirt.

In a world where many think it a greater privilege to meet Nicole Kidman, Steve Waugh or Kylie Minogue than a returned veteran, I suppose I shouldn't really be surprised.

But I was.

When you are in an affluent suburb - which should constitute well-educated residents - and you are reminded clearly over a loudspeaker that it is Remembrance Day yet you still ignore it and walk away, it makes you wonder what sort of citizens we are becoming.

Neither age, race nor sex seemed a factor among those who decided to disregard our servicemen and servicewomen. The only common element was a desire to keep shopping, no matter what.

Is one minute of one day - a lazy, sunny Sunday morning in this case - too much to ask?

No member of my family past or present has served in the armed forces, yet I appreciate the importance of acknowledging those who have lost their lives.

For me. And for you.

Who can be that frantic in a shopping mall on a Sunday morning not to offer 60 silent seconds in return?

To all those people too "busy" to stop for the past, you should also remember we have current serving soldiers for whom this is a very living thing - regardless of whether you agree with them being in such war zones as Iraq.

By way of example, at the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Australian and New Zealand troops held their own Remembrance ceremony last Sunday morning.

There they witnessed the opening of a new building, named ANZAC.

It is the first building at ISAF headquarters to be named after a non-NATO entity.

In an email to friends and family, one soldier wrote: "It was an amazing feeling to be there with troops from all over the world and honour those who did not come back.

"I will always remember the way the sun cut through the pines on the memorial in front of the headquarters as over a thousand troops stood in silence while all we could hear was the singing of the birds."

I wonder what he would have made of those who kept on shopping at Chatswood Chase.

Then again, given his current circumstances, it might be best he doesn't know.

The disappointment in his fellow Australians is a burden he and his fellow soldiers at ISAF in Kabul need not worry themselves with. They already have more than enough on their plate.

Remembrance Day is not solely for those linked to the armed services or for politicians and royals bound by duty to lay wreaths - or even newsreaders to wear poppies.

Remembrance is profoundly personal. It can take just a second or, in this case, a minute. But it's the least we can do.

One day of Remembrance.

One minute of silence.

A lifetime of being forgotten.

If you were one of those who were far too busy to observe The Ode of Remembrance last Sunday, possibly you could spare a moment for it now:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

1735099 said...

Great post - Cav. Unfortunately, it's spot on.

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