Dawn Parade 25 April 1956 (with thanks to Eric Bogle)
through the cold foggy morning at dawn.
He was holding my hand, but his thoughts were away
with the comrades he’d come here to mourn.
He let go my hand and walked into line
standing proud, with his head held so high.
The ribbons showed bright, and the medals all gleamed
and jingled as the line marched on by.
He marched into line and walked with his ghosts
half blinded from letting them in
and the lines on his face made him a stranger to me
and every man there looked like him.
The dead that stay young, stayed there with the men
through the speeches and wreaths and the prayers
‘til the Last Post was played and the ranks were dismissed
and the living reclaimed what was theirs.
I saw as a child how war takes a man
to hell, and then slaughters his friends.
He does what he must, in the battle’s red heart
and surviving means do it again.
Remembered again, remembered in vain.
New marchers arrive from new wars
and the battlegrounds change but war stays the same
though we ask What are we fighting for?
I’d rather see water flow through the land
than blood flowing red in the cities.
I’d rather grow food, and help build new schools
than demonstrate new ways of pity.
Now I march for my father, and try to be proud
of the ribbons and medals I’m wearing.
But I know as I march that pride’s second best
to the love and the pain that I’m sharing.
By Mercedes WebbPullman