My grandad, he represented Australia; wore a green helmet, too.
Walked out and faced the music: ducked a lead ball, not a leather one, mind you.
Not much of a dressing shed in which to relax and prepare;
A stinking-bloody-trench, sick mates, a smoke, and a ‘God-help-me’ prayer.
Such a long way from home; just seventeen, no one has a clue.
The pollies speak of glory and sacrifice; another teenager’s down … no, not Blue.
No greater love can a man have than to lay down his life for a friend.
That Jesus fella knew a thing or two; just wish me Good Friday would come to an end.
What am I here for anyway; King and country? Is it worth this terrible hurt?
Rather be dancing with me Rosie than going toe-to-toe with a Turk!
Letters from mum, they arrive; bring tears and a smile.
Her words are like a prayer in this foreign land; me home for this next little while.
Come back alive, dear son, I miss you; hope these socks warm-up your limbs.
Things are much the same here, luv; dad’s keeping busy mowing lawns and puttin’ out bins.
He misses you too, son, but can’t bring himself to write.
Figures time might slow down if you’re on his mind while out of sight.
God, what I’d do to be mowing lawns and playing cricket in the backyard;
Smelling Gran’s scones in the kitchen, and making life for me sisters hard.
I had my future mapped-out: after Uni I’d teach and inspire kids.
Instead, I’m rolling in mud and blood and death; another teen heading for the skids.
“A just war, a waste of life, a sin” … the experts all have their say;
Like seagulls squawking ‘round a packet of chips; wish they’d just be quiet and take time to pray.
Pray for our families, our minds; the crippled hearts that no longer feel.
Pray for our enemies, too; what happened to them and their loved ones was also a big deal.
Welcome us home, but not with flags, anthems, chest-beating and the like;
But with silence and humbled hearts, because we all know what just happened wasn’t right.
War is failure. I know that. There’s not much else to say;
Man’s inhumanity to man; may it never again hold sway.
Peter Day is a Catholic Priest in Canberra.