This poem outlines the dichotomy between those on the one hand who reaped the benefits of their Vietnam involvement (or non-) and those on the other who suffered and continue to suffer for the role they played.
“It is with deep regret that I have learned that your son 217314 Pte. Bryan Thomas Cullen has
died of wounds sustained in action in Phuoc Tuy Province Vietnam on 27th November 1967 STOP
I desire to convey to you in your sad bereavement my sincere personal sympathy as well as
that of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and of the Military Board STOP”
- Signed: Malcolm Fraser - Minister for the Army.
“Michael Berryman was wounded three days later [after Cullen].
He is still hospitalised today [30 years later] by the shrapnel he received to his temple region.” - (2019 ??)
- M. O'Brien in Conscripts and Regulars, 1998.
“Bloody politicians ... who now search for expiation through pious words of self-confession.
No! Let them remember for every minute of their living days, the legacy of their decisions!”
- Keith Payne, V.C. in Where To? For Valour, 1995.
From The Australian newspaper - (mosaic by Author)
The hour-glass ’tis now near empty,
For some survivors who suffer still;
Their campaign continues, unabated,
Yet reap just rewards, they never will!
Scarring reminders from their past,
Some existing, chained to chairs;
Internal chronic pains now hidden,
Perhaps a glass eye that just stares.
Bones long annealed, yet imperfectly,
Others immobile every day;
Now dependents, on meagre hand-outs,
From a reluctant D.V.A.
Others, trapped in dreams, and restless sleep,
And after all these years, each finds,
That war goes on in their secret worlds,
Disguised, embedded, in troubled minds.
And those forgotten in the aftermath,
Tragic parents, paid a heavy price;
No recognition nor compensation,
For their son’s futile sacrifice.
An end will come, to such enduring pain,
For those who’ve been far too long ignored!
Aging might give them some peace at last,
Perhaps death will bring ... a just reward!
* * *
And since that folly, they’ve come and gone,
Different leaders, yet all the same;
Blood for oil, a debt ignored,
Timor was once our national shame.
When standing on the ‘Left’ of politics,
Hawke’s own ‘hawks’ knew what was ‘Right’;
These ‘ex-protesters’ of yester-year,
Dragged us into that Gulf War fight.
And old soldiers in their twilight years,
Recall rewards to ‘high brass’ ranks;
Whilst guilty ‘pollies’ immortalised,
Knighthoods splashed about in thanks.
Like ‘Sirs’ to Menzies, Court and Billy,
Bolte, Barwick, Hasluck and Joe;
Gorton and Askin, but Harold drowned,
And Labor cut short Malcolm’s ‘go’.
Some honours bestowed on hypocrites, and clowns,
Can you believe that Queensland bloke?
Now that just makes a mockery of,
A system termed: ‘a bloody joke’ !
Yet, not all were tarnished with that badge,
Nor other undeserved awards;
But may those who were, then and since,
Receive their fair and just rewards!