Monday, November 11, 2002

I just got this off an Australia web log: Just thinking about the Vets all over the world:

The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Monday, November 11, 2002
ARMISTACE DAY: In lieu of posting today, I'll turn the mike over to Eric Bogle, and to all the subsequent singers who recorded his most famous song, "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda":

When I was a young man I carried my pack,
and I lived the free life of a rover.
From the Mary's green basin to the dusty outback,
I waltzed my Matilda all over.

Then in 1915, my country said, "Son,
it's time you stopped rambling, there's work to be done."
So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun,
and they marched me away to the war.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda"
as the ship pulled away from the Key.
And amidst all the cheers,
flag-waving, and tears,
we sailed off for Gallipoli.

Oh and how I'll remember that terrible day,
when our blood stained the sand and the water;
and of how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay,
we were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.

Johnny Turk he was waiting, he'd primed himself well.
He showered us with bullets and he rained us with shells.
And in 10 minutes flat, he blew us all to hell,
nearly blew us right back to Australia.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda"
as we stopped to bury our slain.
We buried ours,
and the Turks buried theirs,
then we started all over again.

And those that were left, well, we tried to survive,
amidst all that blood, death, and fire.
And for 10 weary weeks I kept myself alive,
while around me the corpses piled higher.

Then a big Turkish shell knocked me ass over head,
and when I woke up in me hospital bed,
and saw what it had done, then I wished I were dead.
Never knew there were worse things than dying.

For I'll go no more waltzing Matilda,
all around the green bush far and free.
To dance on his pegs,
a man needs both legs.
No more Waltzing Matilda for me.

Then they gathered the wounded, the crippled, the maimed,
and they shipped us all back to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane:
those proud, wounded heroes of Suvla.

And as our ship pulled into Circular Key,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
and thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me,
to grieve or to mourn or to pity.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda"
as they carried us down the gangway.
But nobody cheered,
they just stood and stared,
then they turned all their faces away.

So 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,
reliving old dreams of past glory.

But the old men march slowly, their bones stiff and sore,
the tired old heroes from a forgotten war.
And the young people ask, "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question.

But the band plays "Waltzing Matilda,"
and the old men still answer the call,
but as year follows year,
more old men disappear,
Someday no one will march there at all.

"Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"
And their ghosts may be heard,
as they march by that billabong,
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"

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