I don’t know how to think about these things

The things we cling to and call our culture confuse me

In our short history

The hardships we choose to remember turn to myths

This war story we tell ourselves

 

I don’t know how to think about these things

So I go the dawn service

I think about my great uncle

I listen to the trumpet

Everyone stands still

A silent ritual

 

Then a kid reads a rhyming poem he wrote about Gallipoli

Then the RSL rep says “If a dog attacks a 2 year old child it gets put down, but if a man attacks a child he only gets 2 years. Use your votes wisely. We’re dishonouring the memory of the sacrifice of the fallen heroes by becoming wimps.”

Then he says “Let us work together for peace and human kindness.”

Then he says “We’ve got a genuine First World War German Rifle so bring the kids and have a look at that over breakfast.”

 

I don’t know how to think about these things

So at home I listen to those war ballads

I read those online discussions of our national identity that we have every year

On January 26th and April 25th

 

I still don’t know how to think about

The things we cling to and call our culture

The hardships we choose to remember

These stories we tell ourselves

 

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And the ANZAC legends didn’t mention mud and blood and tears
And the stories that my father told me never seemed quite real
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn’t even feel
God help me, I was only 19
-from ‘I Was Only 19’ written by John Schumann, originally performed by Redgum

But the band played Waltzing Matilda, as they carried us down the gangway.
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared, then they turned all their faces away
And so now every April, I sit on me porch, and I watch the parades pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march, reviving old dreams of past glories
And the old men march slowly, old bones stiff and sore.
They’re tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, what are they marching for?
And I ask myself the same question.
-from ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ written & performed by Eric Bogle

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3 thoughts on “I don’t know how to think about these things

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