All the uniforms around town. All the medals. All the trauma. All the death. All the football. All the militarism.
All the same old national pride mindless platitudes from the politicians, who fuck us all over. Every. Single. Time.
All the tears.
When I was a kid, the sheer scale of the world wars seduced me into a game of numbers, counting tanks, artillery, divisions, especially of Barbarossa and the Eastern Front.
A certain romanticism of being on the winning side, the good side. That it was the other side that did all the bad stuff, that the atomic attacks and firebombings were noble short cuts, and anyways, the Holocaust and Nanking were always worse.
And then I became an adult, and thinking about each individual dying, maybe half a world away from home, definitely away from family and loved ones.
Through a weird quirk of generational timing, none of my family went to any of the wars last century, for which I am eternally grateful. I almost considered joining up twice, once as I was seeking direction in high school, hey, let’s do officer training at Duntroon, the second directly after 9/11.
But New Zealand was only sending special forces to Afghanistan, and, you know, the short, blind, pigeon toed klutz of a pen pusher thing. In some alternate universe, I’m out there, Ace Rimmer-like though. Traumatised for entirely different reasons to this reality.
And then Iraq happened, and I lost all faith in Western military decision making, and have steadily become more socialist the last decade and a half. We’re in a seemingly endless war and no one pretends to notice, outside of one or two days of the year.
Please understand, I’m saying this not as a go against the troops, veterans, or their families, either from the latest war, back to the Boers, or indeed our own colonisations.
It’s a lack of faith in the governments who made the decisions leading to the deaths of millions. Both on our side and theirs. And the current crop of parliamentary apologists whom say there’s only One Twue Way to distill our glorious history. And woe betide you if you question that.
But fuck what I think, right? Just an out of touch lefty, who can safely be ignored. Rally around the flag, there’s an AFL tradition to uphold etc.
Yes, our war dead died for our freedoms. But do you really think that the generations of 1914, 1939 or, heck, even 1965 would recognise what we’ve done with those freedoms since?
I’m too ranty for the usual funny closing line.
The awful shitty wars we’ve seen on the television, from the weird corners of the world, the last twenty years? Our campaigns, a hundred years ago, with the internet and a lack of censorship, probably would have likely looked the same.
War is a global tragedy.