The band played Waltzing Matilda

Kelly goes to the dawn service every year. I can't accompany her. I sense bloodthirst, false glory. It makes me cold.

She doesn't. She remembers. I respect that. But ANZAC Day remains a point of tension between us.

I begin every St Paddy's Day with Sick Bed of Cuchulain, by The Pogues. I begin every Christmas Eve with Fairytale of New York. I think, from this year, I will begin every ANZAC day with The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, by Eric Bogle. It is the only song written by an Australian that can set the hairs of my neck on end. It captures the middle ground—I think the truth—between Kelly's view, and my view:

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory
And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
They're tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, 'what are they marching for?'
And I ask myself the same question

I really think, if we are going to understand this country, one of the things we must first understand is that song. Is that going too far?

The full lyrics are in the comments.

If I can be a bit cynical for a moment, given the recent furore about Latham's apparent plagiarism, what, in the context of George Bush's Thanksgiving visit, are we to make of Howard's "Baghdad surprise"?

It's bollocks anyway. I think we should steal more political ideas from the US. Let's start with republicanism.

Joseph | 25 Apr 2004

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