Unanswered Questions© Vic Jefferies
For reasons better left unsaid,This year I didn't march,
I chose to go and stand instead beside the cenotaph,
And there beside me on the footpath, stood an old man and his wife,
The lines engraved upon their faces betraying a sadness in their life.
I thought of sons or daughters, of brothers, perhaps a mate,
Of a burden grown so heavy it had bent them with its weight,
But when the old man reached across and took his lady by her hand
And they turned to speak to me, I began to understand.
The old man's voice was tired, worn through years of pain,
As he said, "Please excuse me son, but could you tell us,
Would you do it all again? You see, Mum and I
Recognise those medals that you wear,
For on our loungeroom wall there hangs a similar pair.
The army sent them to us with a lovely telegram,
Instead of sending back our son from that war in Vietnam.
Oh, we know we're old and foolish and it was long ago,
But we think perhaps it might ease our pain
If somehow we could know, what the men like yourself,
Think about that war today, and was it worth our Jimmy's life
And the price we've had to pay?"
Silently, I cursed the politicians and I cursed their evil kind,
I cursed their precious Jimmy for the pain he'd left behind,
I cursed the Vietnam War for robbing me of youth (and God forgive me)
I cursed these poor old wretches now asking for the truth.
Thoughts and sounds and faces came racing to my mind
as I struggled with their question to find an answer that was kind.
How many times had I heard this question
sought the answer night and day?
But now the look within their eyes told me what I had to say!
So I mouthed those words I'd often heard fools pronounce before,
About sacrifice and courage and the glory to be found in war,
I told them how their Jimmy now slept in a hero's grave,
Because he'd offered up his life so freedom he might save!
To those of you who hold the truth sacred in your heart
I'd ask you to reflect upon the pain truth can impart,
For I've no doubt they knew the truth perhaps better than did I,
But they had decided long ago to seek sanctuary in a lie.
Then the old man shook my hand and his wife's smile was sweet
As I watched them shuffle off on their old and weary feet,
But when I saw them stop another veteran, my heart nearly burst with pain,
As I heard the old man saying, "Please excuse us son, but could you tell us,
Would you do it all again?"