A poem for Anzac Day … Remembrance Day … Memorial Day. All the days. And all the men and women. And those they left behind.

Posted: November 11, 2014 in Political musings, Popular Culture et al
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Anzac dead in captured Turkish trenches in Gallipoli

I wrote this poem remembering attending so many Remembrance Day services with my mother, whose husband, the father who I never knew, died at 46, a cheerful but essentially broken man, after six years of service in the Royal Navy..

I am very proud of this poem, both as a poem, in and of itself, and as an authentic expression of my feelings and some things I consider important.

I am largely a pacifist in my outlook, but I have great respect for those who put their lives on the line defending values I hold dear, and opposing tyranny.

It references not only those solemn services attended at memorials with my mother, but the many times since I have seen elderly people stand and pay their respects to the dead of both World Wars, and other wars.

Anzac DayThere is a wave of emotion sweeping Australia at the moment when Anzac day rolls around, with record numbers of people attending Dawn Services both around the country and in places overseas such as Papua New Guinea and Galipolli.

Increasingly, those people have young faces. The great grandchildren, grandchildren and children of those who were wounded, broken, and died. Why the sudden upsurge of interest? Perhaps younger people today look back to a past when the issues were simpler and convictions stronger.

I am also sure that the 39 Australian service people killed in Afghanistan since hostilities broke out there have something to do with it. The Americans and others have lost more people, of course, but those 39 lives are a grievous loss to a country with a population as small as Australia’s, just as the disproportionate sacrifice of the World War I diggers left a scar across the country that took generations to heal: the faces and stories of those brave young people killed in Afghanistan in recent years sure focuses the mind.

I am also reminded, on this solemn day, of the most important thing ever said about conflict, which is, of course:

“War will continue until men refuse to fight.”

If you are interested to purchase my collection of poems called Read Me – 71 Poems and 1 Story – just head here.

(Article re-published for Anzac Day 2013 and Remembrance Day 2014.)

  1. Katie Batrouney says:

    Beautiful Stephen


  2. Simon says:

    A very moving and intimate poem….from the heart


  3. Beautiful words Yolly. And a well-considered, topical intro. Onya.
    Mine is the world of high-tech star wars and real-politik
    not bugles, and cavalry charges, and tears…


  4. Woody says:

    Thanks for the poem, Stephen. I am thankful every day to our fallen soldiers and the survivors. It’s days like this there is definitely a night of gathering and reverence and a few drinks at the ‘Veterans’ motorcycle club closest to me.
    The Maquarie Mint has released a number of brilliant commemorative coins and coin sets (gold and silver), displaying important campaigns and events from the work of the Anzacs. The quality and detail is wonderful and I can only recommend them to all Aussies.
    If I had children, these commemorative coins would be the kind of inheritance that I would dream of passing on.

    P.S. I like your blog.



  5. Simes says:

    β€œWar will continue until men refuse to fight.” was a para phrasing of:

    Wars continue until the remaining survivors have had enough“.


  6. My great grandfather was a Brit who fought at Gallipoli. He was injured but made it out, to fight in France and be injured and captured as a prison of war. He always had a bit of a limp afterwards my mother tells me and a funny pattern in his hair from a shrapnel wound. Yes, the disproportionate sacrifice of fighters in the Great War is hard to imagine in the era of drones.
    Thank you for sharing your poetry and thoughts. The more removed we become from the experience, the more likely we are to repeat it.


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