We do not know this young Australian’s name.
We do not know his age or circumstance.
He lived not for glory, died not for fame.
Selfless in sacrifice, we owe him thanks.
He’s just one of many who died at war;
gave away his everything – for our sake.
One of many who rests forever more.
In his pursuit of peace we too partake.
He is all of them, and he is one of us.
He’s the collective spirit of our dead.
He’s the me, the you, the voice, the chorus,
the sacrifice; the ‘he’ who died instead.
. He laid down his life, surely not in vain.
. Let him remind us not of loss but gain.
© Tim Grace, 7 December 2013
To the reader: It’s Rememberance Day 1993, and Australia’s Prime Minster (Paul Keating) delivers a beautifully crafted eulogy honouring the Unknown Soldier. The speech ends with: “It is not too much to hope, therefore, that this Unknown Australian Soldier might continue to serve his country – he might enshrine a nation’s love of peace and remind us that in the sacrifice of the men and women whose names are recorded here there is faith enough for all of us…”
To the poet: Paul Keating and his speech writer (Don Watson) stripped back the ceremonial metaphors to highlight a much stronger message about the power of ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds on behalf of others. Free of pomp, sincerity speaks with integrity … through remembrance peace becomes our future vision. I hope my conversion of the speech does it no injustice.