Friday, May 6, 2011

I See My Old Comrades, How Proudly They March

Reading about the death of the last WWI veteran, I could not help but be struck by the opening sentence:

The last known combat veteran of World War I was defiant of his place in history, becoming a pacifist who wouldn’t march in parades commemorating wars like the one that made him famous.

This, of course, reminded me of the song And the Band Played "Waltzing Matilda", in which an old (SPOILER ALERT), maimed veteran of the Battle of Gallipoli ponders his service, his maiming, and the celebration of celebration of ANZAC Day- these particular lines jumped into my mind:

Now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Renewing their dreams of past glories
I see the old men all tired, stiff and worn
Those weary old heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call
But year after year, their numbers get fewer
Someday, no one will march there at all.

Rest in peace, Claude Stanley Choules, rest in peace.

My introduction to the song was to the version by The Pogues, but the song was written by Scottish born resident of Australia Eric Bogle. As much as I love The Pogues, I'm going to embed the original:

Mr Bogle also wrote the song No Man's Land also known as "The Green Fields of France", another anti-war song rooted inspired by the "War to End All Wars":

Although Mr. Bogle's two most famous songs were inspired by the horrors of the First World War, he also wrote about more trivial topics, he also has a talent for trenchant satire, old man grumpiness, and wistful prettiness.

As an added public service, I'll embed a version of Waltzing Matilda... I referenced billabongs in a previous post, it's the appropriate thing to do:


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Nice write-up, BBBB.

I'll just throw in some Phil Ochs.

Dr.KennethNoisewater said...

Eloquent as always, B^4. You're pretty good at this blogging thing.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Thanks for the accolades!

You're pretty good at this blogging thing.

This blogging is hard work!

exford legs said...

Yeah it's an odd day, ANZAC day. I'm not much for flag waving.

Australian news media were pretty hot to link the Australian troops involved in the latest invasion of Iraq to the myth of Gallipoli.

'Uh, we can't call them ANZACs. We can only call them ANZACs when New Zealand participates too. New Zealand has decided to sit this one out.'

'So what do we call them? Diggers?'