And the band played waltzing matilda

Today I awoke to the news that Australia had it’s first battlefield death in Afghanistan. All we know of him at the moment is that he was a 40 year old father of two based in Brisbane. That it is the first death by direct attack, in itself is remarkable given that we have been there since day one with our allies and is perhaps a testament to the training and demeanour of our soldiers. It is a tragedy for the family of the young man killed and I fear that he is the first of more to come. With son number 1 likely to be sent overseas next year it is particularly poignant for me.

I could write reams about whether our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is justified or not and could write an entire thesis proving both points of view. The one thing I do not doubt is that the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who are serving, do so in the knowledge that they are putting their lives on the line, and that it is their job and their duty.

I saw this on the comments to that news story above. I don’t know where it originated nor who wrote it.

Ode to Soldiers Brave

Come share a glass, imbibe with me
On the eve of this historic day,
Take wine and meat, let’s celebrate
In the tried and trusted way.
Let us toast the victory
Before we count the cost
Wrap the peace around us
Ere we cry for those we’ve lost.
Come share a glass, imbibe with me
As I salute my fallen friends,
Through their unselfish sacrifice
We reap the dividends.
Their sacrifice was the seeds of peace,
Their struggle was our fight
They answered the call when it was made,
So that we could sleep safe at night.
Come share a glass, imbibe with me
Drink from the fountain of their faith,
Believe in the life they laid down for us
Fear not the message of the wraith.
For that ghostly spectre bought your peace
With all that he could give,
He paid the price of life itself
So that you and I may live.

It is for us time to remember and whether or not we should be there, the following Eric Bogle song is a reminder of the horror of war.

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20 Comments

  1. Pen and the Sword said,

    October 9, 2007 at 2:17 am

    Indeed, this war has gone on long enough. My heart goes all to all who serve in the military and their families, here and abroad.

  2. Gypsy said,

    October 9, 2007 at 4:35 am

    Is there ever really a winner in a war? If even one person loses their life or is injured, the answer is no. That video was very poignant and the photographs a stark reminder of what a tragic waste and loss of life it is. Even the ones that come back are so often ruined for life by their experiences that they are not really living at all.

    I hope and pray your son will never have to see a battle front Loz.

  3. Loz said,

    October 9, 2007 at 4:45 am

    Pen – I agree but I truly don’t know the answer. If we withdraw what does that do to the innocents there?

  4. Loz said,

    October 9, 2007 at 4:48 am

    Gypsy – I also hope he won’t but know that it is likely he will. That is a choice he has made and speaking to the mates he is doing the course with all know and understand that when the time comes they will go willingly.

    But you are also right about the lifetime affects that it has on them – all I hope is that they are looked after when they get back.

  5. WalksFarWoman said,

    October 9, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Laurie I wrote this post back in June because I felt so distraught at looking at all the little pictures of these brave men and women in a dedicated centre spread.

    My son is in the Royal Air Force and has been in the Far East dealing up close and personal with the devastation of war. I had such compassion before he went but since then I see them all for what they are, someone’s son or daughter, everyone’s pride and joy and too precious to be used in this way.
    Why are the sons of those who make the decisions not there?

    There is some hope on the horizon with news of the troops starting to withdraw. Safe return for your son if he has to go. x

  6. Loz said,

    October 9, 2007 at 10:42 am

    WFW – may I also express my hope that your son too is not one who pays the supreme sacrifice. I see today that your Prime Minister has announced that more troop withdrawals are likely before Christmas ours has said we are there for the duration. With an election pending here we have the opposition stating that they will withdraw from Iraq but up our presence in Afghanistan so whatever happens my son will be likely to end up on a tour of duty next year. If not either of those places then it will be East Timor or the Solomon Islands.

  7. Laurie said,

    October 9, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Any casualties greater than 1 is a tragedy. I feel for anyone who has a loved one over there. I don’t know what the answer is, perhaps we need to have the policy makers fully vested in this war from a personal standpoint. Maybe if their own sons, daughters, husbands, wives were there, they would take great care in the decisions they make.
    I hope with all my heart your son, stays safe from harm’s way.

  8. WalksFarWoman said,

    October 9, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Laurie, I should have said the ‘Middle’ East of course! 🙂 He’s back home now thankfully but people just don’t appreciate the intensity of the situation until you have someone directly involved. Afghanistan seems to be a whole different ball game than Iraq because of the terrain.

    I was in a forum recently and was horrified by a topic entitled ‘Servicemen sign up to die’ – how callous and ungrateful is that moron? – Where’s your ‘mad’ smiley? 🙂

  9. meleah rebeccah said,

    October 9, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    that was an AWESOME poem.

    (thank you so much for the kind birthday wishes) xxoo

  10. Josie Two Shoes said,

    October 9, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    My son served in Iraq in the US Air Force. As a mom I was terrified. I was never so thankful as when I knew he had finally left Iraqi air space and was heading home.

    You ask the fair question “If we withdraw what does that do to the innocents?” But I ask, “What about all the innocents that have been killed because of these wars?”

  11. Loz said,

    October 9, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    WFW – I was appalled and horrified at some of the comment on the news site I linked to – people actually critical of the servicemen and women who are there Absolute idiots.

  12. Loz said,

    October 9, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Josie – when I was in the police force and working in the Counter terrorist section I had a lot to do with the Kurdish community here. Whether or not Saddam had weapons of mass destruction at the time of the invasion is still open for debate as far as I am concerned.

    What is not in question is that he had previously used them against the Kurds in the north of Iraq.

    Has our going in lead to the death of innocents? Almost certainly. Has it saved many more? Of course. On balance what is better? I honestly don’t know.

    However, it was Edmund Burke who said “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle”. At least that seems to be the original quote from what I can find.

    It has passed into contemporary language as the words ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

  13. Loz said,

    October 9, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    Laurie – I am not sure that would make a difference. Call me naive but I would like to think that those to which we vest the privilege of running our countries are brave enough to make decisions based on what is best or all whether or not that is best for their loved ones. And I know I’m dreaming when I say that.

  14. Gypsy said,

    October 9, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Morning Loz
    Would you mind popping over to my blog? I have something for you.

  15. Worldman said,

    October 10, 2007 at 3:20 am

    It is indeed “hitting” you when a countryman, serving a good cause, is victim. I remember how I felt when a Swiss soldier died in Kosovo (though of an accident “only”). To serve is Kosovo was a good cause. To serve in Afghanistan or in Irak, I am not so sure.

  16. HollyGL said,

    October 13, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    There is a local tv channel that devotes a large portion of its time to showing pictures of fallen soldiers with their names, and family statistics. Loz, its heartbreaking. I’ve tried to watch out of respect for them, but I never last long without bursting into tears. The thing that is so striking is how young most of them are. How could they possibly know what they were choosing at 18yo? Its devastating. The whole thing is …devastating on every level.

  17. Dorothy said,

    October 14, 2007 at 2:36 am

    Loz, my heart goes out to the family of the soldier and I will pray for your son. My grandson Gary spent 7 and half months in Iraq and may be redeployed next November. I’m in support of our troops, however, very disappointed in our government. Most of us are. There is a vast majority quietly supporting Mrs. Clinton, hoping she is able to clean this mess up. We recognize it’s not very realistic, however, could she make it any worse?

    What an emotional song.

    Regards, Dorothy from grammology
    call your grandma
    http://grammology.com

  18. HappyStill said,

    October 16, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Thank you for putting this song on. my kids know it but apart from me singing it REALLY badly to them (sadly, for them, at bed time), I don’t think they’ve ever heard it properly. They will now!!!
    I am a person opposed to the interventions in both Iraq and Afghanistan.. I’m with Gypsy on this. I don’t know what would happen to the innocents.. and by innocents I would include the British, American, Aussie and other ‘foreign’ soldiers who are sent there.. but in the 21st century, there has to be a better way
    thanks again for the tune

  19. Loz said,

    October 16, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    I honestly don’t know what the answer is – on the one hand I can argue that we should leave them to sort out their own problems – on the other there is a moral duty to help. But is our version of morality the right one. Are we able to step back and objectively evaluate things and say that Western Society is better than anything we have come up with so far. My answer would be yes but I also have an obvious bias.

    The song When the Band Played Waltzing Matilda is one of the greatest anti-war songs ever written and Eric Bogle has written several. If you are interested also check out “The Green Fields of France.”

  20. HappyStill said,

    October 17, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    I have already been on You tube checking out all the Eric Bogle references. There are some dire versions of his somgs there and some outstandingly beautiful versions.
    My dad is BIG Eric fan and bought me a ticket to see him a few years ago, as a surprise.
    I surprised my Da more by being on holiday, in another country, on the night of the gig.
    I am still not entirely convinced that he has forgiven me. He looks at me with a far off and disappointed look… Eric needs to revisit ireland and give me a chance to redeem myself!
    Now I’m Easy is another brilliant one of his… I think?
    Love the posts


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