Did You Serve In Vietnam?

We put all the dates on marbles and we drew them one by one That's how the Government decided just who would take up the gun And if your birthday coincided, you received a telegram That meant you would be trained and sent to fight in Vietnam A living hell's what faced you if your number had been drawn And many conscripts wished to hell they never had been born For no matter what these fellas thought, they were in a no-win situation Were they fighting for Australia, or invading someone else's nation.

They trained here in Australia, then were packed off overseas To be shot at, bombed and booby-trapped by the Vietnamese And to do the same to Viet-cong before they did it to you No-one liked what they were doing but it was what they had to do. Burn the villages, kill the cattle, ignore the horrors you had seen Spending months in sweaty jungles, without getting to feel clean Wading swamps and climbing mountains to get an edge upon the foe Then attack and take no prisoners - just the same as G I Joe

You got letters from your family, but the papers were not sent Perhaps some clippings now and then, and you wondered what that meant But your families tried to hide you from the headlines over here For you didn't have the backing of the people far and near. You risked your lives most every day, and orders you obeyed As our diggers had done in the past, that's how heroes had been made And you saw your mates as heroes in the things they had to do Though what they did while "over there" was no different to you.

Your girlfriend didn't wait for you - "well, who knows if he'll come back?" And you lost some darn good mates in an enemy attack But the damage that would hurt you most was not from the Viet Cong More the Aussies who took to the streets, proclaiming you were wrong You fought your fears most every day, and every night as well Tried every trick to stay alive, and bring back stories you could tell But when you came back to Australia, you were not held up on high You were scorned and classed as outcasts - and you did not know why.

The horrors that had etched your mind were eating at you still As if you hadn't had enough - you'd more than had your fill You should have been held as heroes - it's what you had expected But now you were political pawns, far worse than just neglected. Some mates who'd fought beside you, when you were "over there" Went off the rails when they came home and no-one seemed to care While others shrunk inside themselves - to not come out again With nothing like it was before, and that was very plain.

The stories you brought back with you, you've never told as yet Now you wish you didn't have those tales, although you can't forget For those who were not there with you in that hellish foreign land Could never in a million years even part way understand And I wonder, what can I do, as one who wasn' t there To help you feel accepted, to let you know I care To let you know that we were wrong - those back home I mean And to put you on the pedestal where you should have always been

I'm not a man of influence, but I'll do the best I can To keep you on par with every honoured Aussie man Who has done the best he could've as each circumstance demands For I'm proud of what you fellas did, and I'm proud to shake your hands.

Jeff Cook