Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Room Empties

" Year after year
more old men disappear.
Soon no one
will march there
at all..."

No one is left from the First World War.
The end of the 2nd War is now 70 years past.
Given that about the youngest anyone could have lied their way into serving in that conflict was 16, that puts the 'youngest' likely veteran of WW2 at 86.
The Korean War ran 1950 - 1953.
Make the 'youngest' having enlisted in the Regular Forces at 17. That puts a veteran of this one at least 75.
Viet Nam spanned 1955 (depending on who you count) to 1975. Again use the 17 year old soldier. That makes the veteran of this mess at least 57.

For Canadians, add years of Peacekeeping - all over the place.
What seems an endless repetition in the Middle East, bleeding one into the other down to this morning (and certainly yet to come).

I personally never knew a family member who endured WW2.
I joined the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves in 1972.
The Regular Forces Adviser in the Regiment had served in Korea.
Viet Nam was still happening. Of the instructors on my Junior NCO course, two had somehow enlisted in the US Army, and served a tour in the jungle.
One of my closest friends had also jumped to the USA, and served *two* tours in the 101 Airborne there. 

I turned 60 this year.
For me, 'the War' is Viet Nam. As a young man, I came to meet many people who had been marked by that event.
Many friends to fled to Canada to avoid the draft.
A man who had been the second person to set foot into the village of My Mia.
Those that had fought there, willingly - or in terror.
Those who protested. Those who heaped abuse on me because I wore a uniform.
I have an opinion after all this,
but that is not the point today.

'The Band plays Waltzing Matilda.
And the (young) men answer the call.'
'Year after year,
more old friends disappear.
Soon no one
will march there
at all.'

'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda'
written by Eric Bogle in 1971
Although of the many, many versions of this song, this one is still the one I consider the best.

1 comment:

Henry Troup said...

My uncles were in WWII, and Jennifer's parents. My grandfather was a WWI veteran, Black Watch, and I knew him for ten years. When I grew up in Scotland, there was still WWII bomb damage visible, and "what did you do in the war, Daddy" was a valid meme.
But we can add Bosnia, Croatia, and Afghanistan to the list of Canadian wars.
Not all the casualties are instantaneous, either. An Ottawa acquaintance is on trial for murdering his wife; friends say that the man who came back from Bosnia wasn't the man who went.


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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