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Reader Contribution: ANZAC Day 2021

By Lesley White

The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan

takes me back to a time when an Australian PM called me a traitor

on the 6 o’clock evening news

for having marched, with hundreds of thousands of others…

Protesting to stop a war before it started

A war that could not be called a war

For fear the term would define certain acts, that may follow, as ‘war crimes’ under the Geneva Convention.

No, no… It was termed a ‘pre-emptive strike’

Surely the same as what we rail against

and call an ‘unprovoked declaration of war’

when started by a foe.

But for us, ‘pre-empt’ became plausible

It became the official talking point,

the news,

the accepted truth.

And in amongst it all, thousands of good, young, patriotic men (mostly) and women

Went in, as commanded, to ‘restore democracy’…

to ‘restore order’.

They went in, for 2, 3, 5 tours – often against medical advice –

… ignoring the stress and hardship

And they suffered as pawns in the political narrative ‘du jour’

And many – too many – returned with PTSD

Too many ‘broken’

and far too many didn’t come back at all.

And in these last few weeks, America has ‘pulled out’. We withdraw too.

Billions have been paid to arms manufacturers

Millions of hours of family time has been lost

Thousands of innocent lives ruined (both our troops and many in the firing line ‘over there’, especially those who supported the allies).

And I cry for our country,

and for our armed forces.

And I wish our leaders would only send them in to action when there is a clear objective and a clear exit strategy.

We owe them. We owe it to them to say ‘no’ or ‘wait’ when our leaders go in half baked. Lest we forget.

… the heartache I carried, of being called a traitor in a country that I love with all my heart, is worth it. I would protest again… to buy us time to make smarter decisions.


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