What a bunch of RSoLes
"Banish the status seekers and wannabe warriors," one said on smh.com.au.
"Let the diggers enjoy their one day of the year - it's about them and their
sacrifice, not the relatives."
Which only reveals the utter ignorance of the person writing. People such as myself march these medals around each year year so as to be a "wannabe warrior"? Piss off. People such as my brothers and sisters, my children and theirs march these medals around so as to be "wannabe warriors"? Piss off. Such ignorant arseholes betray a complete lack of understanding. As does the RSL.
There are no more WWI "diggers". There are precious few WWII "diggers". There no longer is anyone to carry the standards of those extraordinary men who threw themselves at the unbroken German razor wire at Fromelles (5533 casualties in 14 hours); Poziers (5285 casualties); Mouquet Farm; Villers-Bretonneux; Passchendaele and Ypres. No one left but those who, like myself and my siblings, carry the medals of those campaigns each and every ANZAC Day around Martin Place.
Who do these irrelevant buggers think they are? We do not march as some sort of glory seeker. We do not seek to bask in some glory we never shed blood for. We do, though, have a huge respect for the sacrifice made by those who did earn these medals. We do believe that those medals should "march" each year (as they bloodywell will this year). And I do believe that those medals should march in the units to which they bloodywell belong. If not, what the hell is the point?
Really, this march will disappear up its own fundamental orifice once the WWII vets go the way of those of WWI. All will be sent "to the rear". The RSL will get what it richly deserves": irrelevancy.
I well remember the protracted battle my father waged - as the local RSL Club Chairman - to change the name to R&SL Community Club. It wasn't "community" that upset them, it was the "and". You see, the club should be for "returned men" only - not "service" men. Seemingly they wish to atrophy upon the vine. They are welcome to it: I resigned my (associate) membership after dad's death.
I also well remember, more than twenty years back, asking Jack (the Old Man) if it would "right" if I joined him on the march to wear my grandfather's medals. There was a silence, seemingly longer than it was, before he replied that he thought that it was the most "right" of things. He had, in fact, been wondering whether anyone (of us) would ever ask. One of the best things I ever did.
Jack marched with service mates each year. I marched with them. Since then so have the siblings and, a couple of years back, my two children. They were well instructed in what this meant. And, not to upset anyone and with the RSL making the same noises then, I asked Jack's last extant mate whether he minded the kids marching the medals with me. His reply was succinct: "Who the hell do they think they are? I think it's just the best thing - these kids are the future of this march. Those medals need to do the rounds and I'm proud to have them along whether they, you or your brothers and sisters carry them".
The RSL needs to wake up to itself. It is in imminent danger of taking itself way too seriously. Something the "diggers" rarely did. The RSL NSW pesident certainly takes himself seriously:
"Sadly, we are coming to the point where there won't be any Second World War
veterans in the march at all because they will not be well enough to do it,"
said the president of the NSW RSL, Don Rowe.
"That's when the descendants will have to take up the banner."
What a goose. Do we wait until units are down to ones and twos? Just like the WWI vets have gone: who's taken up the banner? People like us who are told to march when it's all over. Fool.
The siblings have discussed it and we've decided that grandad's strip - a rare strip - will be donated to the War Memorial should this be the way things are. There's no way they'll be reduced to the irrelevancy of marching with an ever enlarging mish-mash of "descendants" after the march is, to all intents and purposes, over.