a poem by Paul Churton Bownas, Australia

Some medal ribbons from Long Tan,
a four-wheel drive and a caravan.
His roaming travels never cease,
though all he seeks is quiet and peace.
His hair is long and mainly grey,
he takes prescriptions every day.
If you try to have a chat with him,
he sits there with a face that's grim.
He listens now to what you say,
but you know his mind is far away.
He wasn't always down like that,
he used to smile and laugh and chat.
He used to grin and be upbeat -
till he got booed in Flinders Street,
when, marching with his comrades there,
he saw his own folk didn't care!

He'd done what he was told to do,
no carry-on or bally-hoo;
he hadn't asked to be sent there,
he'd simply gone to do his share;
but sometimes he can still see scenes
of bombs, and flares, and jungle greens -
he lost five hundred mates up there.
his hair now grey that once was fair,
his brow more creased, his face more lined,
he tries to think of happy times;
but happy times have passed him by,
and now he only sits and cries.
His wife has tried to comfort him,
she gets his pills and other things;
then, while he's lying there asleep,
she sneaks outside, to have a weep.

Instead of honour he deserved,
from this great country that he served,
all he got then were snarls and curses;
the thing that made it really worse is
the government that sent him there
should be so thoughtless, so unfair,
to dump him in his hour of need -
as change in politics decreed!
So, when you see that caravan
with medal ribbons from Vietnam,
then show that man some deep respect -
not ignorance or cruel neglect;
for he deserves your admiration,
and grateful thanks from this - his nation.

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