Duty, Honor, Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be:- Douglas MacArthur
Last year I lost a very good mate who passed away unexpectedly. Although 29 years older than me, we shared a common bond, both of us Veterans. Noel may have served in a time before me, we found common ground and not only was he a very good mate but something of a father figure too. Noel Bastin was a gentleman, very generous and he had a wicked and dry sense of humor, very much like mine. Noel served his country in Borneo with 21 Construction Squadron and again in Vietnam with 17 Construction Squadron. You think that would be enough but shortly after returning home he was called up for National Service, and he willing did his bit there too.
We both had our days but if one of us was struggling with our demons, the other was there to offer a shoulder to lean on.
Noel passed away without any fanfare. There was no funeral and no remembrance service. Not one of his so-called friends turned out and to see a man and a warrior fade into obscurity saddened me.
No one who serves their country or community deserves to just fade away, to be forgotten. The least I could do was to make sure he was remembered.
I recently, with some help, had a plaque made, something simple but the parent regiment of both 21 Const and 17 Const agreed to place the plaque in their memorial garden. My friend will not fade into total obscurity but join others who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
JUST A COMMON SOLDIER
(A Soldier Died Today)
by A. Lawrence Vaincourt
He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.
And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.
He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.
When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?
A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.
It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?
He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.