A Day Out

by Bill Walker

Clinking of the medals
crunching of the feet
witnessed by the honor guard
lining out the streets
skirling of the bagpipes
dull thud of the drum
order of the service
just a background hum
flooding back the memories
so strong it’s hard to cope
did their bit for freedom
democracy and hope
suppression of reality
mourning stolen youth
so many years they held back tears
which could have flushed the truth
of stories mother didn’t hear
and father never told
terror chills an aging spine
blood and shame run cold
but on their day they venture out
in full view of the nation
then withdraw into themselves
forgotten poor relations
no one seems to understand
why they like a drink
blankly gaze through bloodshot eyes
too much time to think
while on the wall beside the queen
the midday news is on
another bloody war zone
another bloody bomb.


  1. Great stuff Bill.

  2. Beautiful piece, Phantom.

  3. Bloody wonderful.
    I just got home from my first Dawn Service. Kings Park on a ridge overlooking the Swan, the city and the eastern sky. My overwhelming impressions were the dignity, diversity and inclusiveness. Huge procession of fellow shadows shuffling in. An old man with medals gets out of a taxi. Helps a much older man with medals and a slouch hat to get out of the back seat. First tears. Kookaburras. The bloke alongside me is wearing a suit that smells of beer, piss and tobacco. The smell of my Sunday mornings long past. Doesn’t matter – he has his son with him. We are all brothers and sisters for an hour. Young blokes wearing suits, that would resist wearing a suit to their own wedding. Chest painted with ancestral medals. They are wearing the medals not the suit. More tears.
    Gorecki’s ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ inspired by the Holocaust. Long silence. Long lines of wreath layers. Formal. Informal. Old. Young. Male. Female. Suits. Hoodies. Koreans? Vietnamese? Were the last 2 men Turks wearing fez’s? I hope so.
    There is no Bruce to tell us what we should be seeing or feeling. We all have our own inner commentary. Last Post. “At the going down of the sun….” Reveille. A thoughtful short speech by a serving soldier about a military disaster and the values it made tangible. We all leave sadder, happier and a little ennobled.
    Thanks Phantom. Thanks RSL. Thanks Australians in all your shapes and forms. Thanks silence.

  4. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Poingnant Bill. Their pain is quickly forgotten after the fanfare and the rhetoric. Lest we forget them for the other 364 days. Well done, mate.

Leave a Comment