This poem is based upon the haunting words of The Ode. They are repeated at various functions throughout each year. These words are uttered by all those who care, so that we should not forget the men and the women who suffered on our behalf.
Of all the wars in which Australia has participated, none was more controversial than the Vietnam War. Opponents to it justify their stance, in retrospect, after many of the hidden facts came to light. Their stance was not taken at the time because of those facts, since most of those facts had at the time not been revealed. Yet, many supporters of the war would like to forget that they were indeed supporters at all.
All this favours an overall desire to put it behind us, hoping that it will all go away. But it won’t! Those, and their families, who did the bidding of their government, will never allow it to be forgotten. In fact it must never be forgotten for the simple reason that we would run the risk of perhaps repeating our past mistakes.
“ Let us tell those who fought in that war that we will never again ask young
men to fight and possibly die in a war our government is afraid to win! …
... No more Vietnams! ”
- Ronald Reagan, 1976.
Lest We Ever Forget … Vietnam
Another funeral, of a mate today,
In his prime, yet passed away.
Five hundred stands, the official score,
Though since that time, there's been lots more.
An indifferent public, can't understand,
All the side effects ... of Vietnam.
Words from ‘The Ode’, echo in my ears,
I’ve heard them often, throughout the years.
Yet, behind my nation’s blind salute,
Behind those promises, that don't compute,
There hides many, who don’t give a damn,
Erasing the memory ... of Vietnam.
It’s an open wound that cannot heal,
Nerves stay shattered, yet still they feel;
Like old bones, which never seem to set,
And minds that think, so can’t forget.
Their pain was spawned in a foreign land,
The ultimate tragedy ... of Vietnam.
They recall, ’tis true not everything,
Time compresses, expands, like a spring.
Guilt overtakes, plays upon some minds,
As the coiled past now unwinds.
And some still fight, as best they can,
Use lessons well learned ... in Vietnam.
Politicians attempt, to brush it all aside,
Yet, fifty years won’t cover those who lied.
They placed the very best of men,
Like helpless Christians, in the lion’s den.
They fed us war, but tied one hand,
Sent us to die for them ... in Vietnam.
Some memories faded, by Time’s tide,
Although false history, we can’t abide.
They’ve let the flotsam drift ashore,
Reject their own role, any blame ignore;
Dismiss all baggage from that contentious cause,
Still can’t promise no more ... Vietnam wars.
And hidden symbolism lies in our flag,
Yet to some it's just a coloured rag.
To view a coffin draped, share an athlete’s dreams,
Some have no idea, what all that means.
And since they’ve never raised their hand,
Remain unaffected ... by Vietnam.
Rewards are reaped, from what is sown,
Some blind to truth, don’t want it known.
They close their eyes, shut each door,
To tired old men from a tired old war.
Still, there are those who’ll take a stand,
Lest we ever forget ... Vietnam.
Long Tan Site - once neglected - 1990
Lest We Forget … Vietnam