STORIES - War
It was in 1971 while attending an anti-Vietnam War rally, when I realized that protesting against the Government and against Australia's involvement, was the final nail, remaining a member of the Royal Australian Navy was no longer an option. While mentally committed to completing the 12 year term, signed in January 1961, and planning to complete 20 years in the Navy and leaving on a life pension, I was not sorry about joining, just a realization that I was not a suitable candidate for a career in the armed forces. The earlier "nails" were, my final acceptance of being gay in 1969 and then meeting my (future) life partner a few months later. With Gavin's assistance, I purchased a house in Sydney, as an investment for the future, but by settlement, the house was no longer an "investment" but our home. Up until that anti-war rally, the plan to sign on for another 8 years in the Navy was still an option, despite the fact that our relationship was illegal in Australia and certainly grounds for dismissal from the Navy. Though the illegality bought to the fore my opposition to oppression and support for human rights, strengthened by joining movements such as Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP Inc), multiple attendances of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical and reading egalitarian and anti-establishment publications such as Nation Review; generally caught up and soaking in the sexual and social 'revolution' washing through the 1960's and 1970's. Opposition to war is still strong, although I am still supportive of the armed forces, there is no regret about serving in the RAN.
The Old Lie - Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a poem by Wilfred Owen, a gut wrenching work, describing the death of a World War 1 soldier overcome by chlorine gas : "hear the blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud of vile incurable sores on innocent tongues". This anything but "sweet" death is the Old Lie; the Latin sentence at the end of the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. which translates as "How sweet and fitting (or glorious) it is to die for one's country!". The line is from an ode by Horace, a 1st century B.C. Roman poet. The title also refers to another lie, the lie that recruiters and the culture at large told to young men to get them to sign up to fight in the Great War.
The central figure in the art work, a woman standing on a globe, is from a World War I poster, Freedom calling on young men to join up, to fight (and die) for their country. Images across the bottom include a young German soldier from W.W.I, desert fighting in W. W. II, the trenches in W.W.I, an Australian soldier in Vietnam. On the left a young boy to play the Last Post and on the far right, the moon, which represented death in the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), eclipses the sun.