Recently I have had the pleasure of getting to know a recently retired member of the Australian Special Air Service regiment. He has written the following poem about ANZAC day which is today in Australia. It is my pleasure to share it with you. My thanks to the talented poet who wishes to remain anonymous.
DAWN SERVICE TWILIGHT.
Standing in the morning mist, my feet start feeling numb
‘Why am I here’, my senses cry, ‘’tis nothing short of dumb’.
I raise my head and search, through a stinging, acrid eye.
Then suddenly, through fog so thick, it appears to answer why.
The Cross so tall and noble, it reminds me of back then.
Of those who went before me, and the one’s who’ll go again.
My shoes and welts all blackened, and the suit so neatly pressed.
My sincere respect and gratitude, displayed in how I’m dressed.
I look from side to side, not unlike I’m dressing ranks.
All around me people gather, I guess to give their thanks.
Whilst they mostly look quite shabby, and their children, much the same.
The patriot inside me, is heartened that they came.
A sudden hush befalls the crowd, a feeling much sublime.
The reason that we gather, is now clearly marking time.
The emotions rise inside me, many difficult to tell.
Such stillness at this hour, long ago preceded hell.
I await the coming readings, to espouse the acts of men.
Who gave their all and being, whose deeds defy the pen.
Instead, I hear a lecture, about the horrors that they saw.
About the evil of the causes, about the pointlessness of war.
Little talk surrounding mateship, heroic deeds are all but mute.
Sacrifice is clearly wrong, when the cause, it doesn’t suit.
It’s not about the politics, or the right or wrong.
It’s not about the lyrics, just those who sang the song.
The suffering of the living, a story worthy to be told.
But this morning is reserved, for those that grow not old.
My reason for the early rise, clear at odds with some.
I’d prefer to honour men, not preach to those that come.
Reflections of my service, of the men to left and right.
Bring memories of their spirit, and the way they faced the fight.
Their humour ever present, their devotion beyond compare.
Camaraderie never failing, despite privation and despair.
Although it’s oft forgotten, when the voices break the night.
The verse before the ode, reflects the spirit of which I write.
They went with songs to battle, healthy, young, aglow.
Staunchly faced the odds, and fell towards the foe.
Such contrasts are the challenge, when you stand to take the floor.
Reflecting both the best and worst, the true dichotomy of war.
The tears reflect my sadness, while a smile betrays the pride.
Of having had the honour, of serving at their side.
If you ask me what I want, why I come here every year,
The answer may surprise you, it’s to laugh and shed a tear.
Is this inappropriate? Disrespectful to the dead?
I refuse to mourn their passing, I WILL REMEMBER THEM instead.