November 11, 2013

In Remembrance

Since it's remembrance day, it's fitting we pay tribute with a track for our fallen comrades. There are millions of tribute songs that have been created for this very reason, but I was sent one in particular today which stood out, because it was so descriptive and focused in on the impact that these wars had on the younger generations. The version of the song which I've included below is actually a hip hop remix of an anti-Vietnam song from 1972 by Redgum, with the same name. Read along and listen below. This one goes out to my grandpops - who lead a tank battalion for Canada in WW2, survived the war, but not the cancer - as well as any other man-of-arms that was made a martyr to protect what they loved.

I Was Only 19 - RedGum (covered by The Herd)
Mum, Dad and Denny
were some amongst many
who turned up to see the passing out parade at Puckapunyal
Seemed every man and his mongrel
watched cadets stumble
on the long march to the Viet jungle.
"Oh Christ", I mumbled as I drew that card
and my mates came to slap me on the back with due regard
We were the sixth battalion and the next to tour
we did Canungra and Shoalwater before we left, rest assured
Seemed half of Townsville turned out to see us leave
and they lined the footpaths as we marched to the quay
And the papers wrote it up like you wouldn't believe
but we were looking to the future for a fast reprieve
And there's all of us looking young
strong and clean rockin' slouch hats
slung SLRs and greens
God help me, I was only nineteen
From Vung Tau the black helicopters
the chinhook pilots seemed relieved at Nui Dat when they dropped us
Seems like months running on and off landing pads
letters to Dad
'cause it's like, man, he's sad
But he can't see the tents that we call home
cans of VB, pin-ups on the lockers of chicks off TV
The noise, the mosquitoes and the heat suprising
like the first time you see an agent orange horizon
So please can you tell me doctor why I still can't get to sleep
the scar's left in me?
Night time's just a jungle
dark and a barking M16 that keeps saying
"rest in peace"
And what's this rash that comes and goes
I don't suppose you can tell me what that means?
God help me, I was only nineteen
Sent off on a four-week long operation
where every single step could be your last one
My two legs were sorta living hell
falling with the shells, war within yourself
But you couldn't let your mates down
'til they had you dusted off
so you closed your eyes and thought of something else
Then someone yelled "contact!"
another bloke swore
we hooked in there for hours then a god almighty roar
Then Frankie kicked a mine
the day that mankind kicked the moon
God help him, he was going home in June
And I can still see Frank with a can in his hand
thirty-six hour leave in the bar at the Grand
I can still hear Frank
a screaming mess
of bleeding flesh
couldn't retrieve his legs
You see the ANZAC legend
neglected to mention
the mud
the fear
the blood
the tears
the tension
Dad's recollection
beyond comprehension
didn't seem quite real until we were sent in
The chaos and confusion
the fire and steel
hot shrapnel in my back
I didn't even
God help me, I was only nineteen
Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing out parade at Puckapunyal
It was a long march from Cadets
The sixth battalion was the next to tour
It was me who drew the card
we did Canungra and Shoalwater before we left
So please can you tell me doctor
why I can't get to sleep
I can't hardly eat?
And the sound of the Channel Seven chopper still chills me to my feet
still fuels my grief?
And what's this rash that comes and goes like the dreams
can you tell me what that means?
God help me, I was only nineteen.

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