Young Ghosts by an old country Cenotaph
It is November 11 again. My eldest son is just 9 weeks shy of his 19th birthday. He is the only one in the family line to carry the name of his Great Grandfather who went off to the western front at the same age. So please forgive me. When I think about the dreadful sacrifices made by almost every farming family I can only ask if we are still worthy of the rights and liberties that were protected at such a cost.
I think about the rights that have already been taken without so much as a single bloody nose, or even a hurled egg or tomato. I wonder if those boys are still watching us now. I wonder what they would think about the people who claim to represent us but who give up so meekly and then pose for the camera, doing all they can to provide our persecutors with the veneer of good governance their voters still expect of them.
I wonder why it is that those who have had so little of life can give so much. And why those of us who have had so much of life will pay so little to hang on to what has already been paid for in full.
I still can't get over what an incredible bond of trust and belief in the inherent worth of their own community there must have been for parents to let their kids go into something like that. If Rudd & Wong, Bligh & Beattie, Carr and all the rest are the litmus paper of the nation we have become then, I'm sorry to say it, but these people are not worth the death of one good man, let alone 65,000, and just as many in continuous care some 3 decades later.
I was the last Cadet Officer of my school Cadet Unit before Whitlam shut it down in 1973, so I missed the draft by 2 years. But there was never any doubt as to where my duty lay. This was no mistake on my part, nor any moral fall from grace, as the left would have history record. You see, I was the son of a farmer who also rented land to other, poorer, farmers. And there were these people who knew nothing about farming who had consistently chosen to shoot folks like me and my family, without trial, every time they had the chance. And it was solidarity with people just like us that reinforced the need to fight murderers at their own place, not our's. Just as we now fight murderers in their own place today.
When I got to Uni I found that there were people with academic tenure who were quite capable of justifying my arbitrary dispossession and execution on the grounds of some illdefined "greater good". The students who were taught by those academics have reinvented themselves and now run our state and federal governments. And it is with the profoundest regret that it has come to the point where I could break both my son's legs before I would let them risk their lives for these leaders and the nation that elected them.
We all need to examine our consciences and ask if we have done enough to look those young ghosts in the eye as we pass them by at all those little country Cenotaphs. It is no good remembering them on just 2 days of the year while squandering their inheritance for the rest of it.