Flat White

Time for the RSL to get off its knees

13 January 2017

8:51 AM

13 January 2017

8:51 AM

70th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Founding Battalions of The Royal Australian Regiment

If ever there was an act of national moral cowardice it has been the RSL’s nil response to plans to cancel some Anzac Day commemorations this year over possible terrorist threats.

The bed-wetting, jelly-kneed councillors on the Blue Mountains City Council dissolved over an imagined threat to the annual Anzac Day march in their area and decreed there will be no marches or services in their jurisdiction.

When the RSL had real leaders like the late Bruce Ruxton and Rusty Priest, men who were never afraid to articulate what their membership believed, the pissant Blue Mountain councillors would have quickly retreated, yelping and with their tails between their legs.

Unlike the men of the militia 39th Battalion who never yielded against overwhelming odds as they defended the Kokoda Trail during Australia’s darkest days in 1942.

“Who’s that mob?’ queried a bystander as a group of emaciated soldiers hobbled back along the road to Sogeri after their Kokoda campaign in September 1942.

“This is not a mob – this is the 39th,” yelled the furious officer leading the group. History records these ragged troops faced odds uncounted but were undaunted in their epic battle against the Japanese at Isurava – many had fallen with their faces to the foe.

Because the men of the 39th did not yield during Australia’s hour of peril the tide of war turned.

Years later 18th Brigade veteran Sergeant Stan Bryant addressed an attentive Anzac Day audience at Sydney’s Martin Place.

“I say to all you people here today, to you who are responsible for governing this country, to all you who hold positions of leadership in the community, to all Australians, it is from the men we honour today that you inherited this land.

“These were the men who helped build this nation. They were the ones associated with building of our harbours and our bridges. They sealed the roads across the black soil planes, and they built the railways across Australia. Then they fought off the Japanese invasion so that you could inherit this country.

“You now have the fruits of our labours. The cities and the harbours and the plains are yours.

“We few survivors are aged and can only look on with pride and wish you success in the future.

“But we do charge you, to accept the responsibility of your inheritance and nourish and guard them with care.

“They paid the price of your future. Only they know the real cost.

“And remember – remember – we solemnly promised God that we would never forget.”

Death has spared Stan Bryant spared the ignominy of watching Blue Mountains City councillors collapse against an imagined threat to the annual Anzac Day march in their area.

Fortunately, these quislings threw the pin instead of the grenade, which blew up in their sullen faces, the result of a spontaneous public backlash.

Stan Bryant has also been spared the ignominy of watching a cowardly RSL fail to take the lead on this issue.

That is a serious concern for the organisation’s broader membership who would have applauded a media release announcing that ‘the RSL will march on Anzac Day – with or without Government approval – as it has every year for the past hundred years – and will do so every year for the next hundred’.

There can be no greater insult to surviving members of the 39th and their fellow veterans than the betrayal of their sacred day by traitorous Blue Mountain City councillors and the current leadership of the organisation they believed in so passionately who are missing in action.

Nobody but nobody will stop them marching behind their battle honours on the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign this year.

Anzac Day symbolises our national battle honour and the right to commemorate it as our Anzacs did must never be compromised.

The RSL must also urgently fill the leadership void created since the passing of resolute leaders like Ruxton and Priest.

Imagine how they would have reacted when the radical Islamic terrorist, Man Haron Monis wrote despicable letters to the wives of our servicemen killed in action in Afghanistan. Imagine their outrage over prosecuting commandos for doing what we sent them to Afghanistan to do – kill the enemy.

Imagine their reaction to defence mandarins directing ADF personnel not to wear uniform in public so they won’t offend our very own Centrelink sponsored terrorists. In a recent Spectator article former Lieutenant Colonel Kel Ryan surmised that a key factor in the decline of the RSL was their unwillingness ‘to enter the public debate on those core issues that are fundamental to the members of the RSL’.

Ryan declared it was also attributable to their inability to embrace more recent veterans; its failure to plan strategically to meet the demand of the 21st century and its failure to advocate strongly for the issues so clearly enunciated in its constitution’.

The RSL would be wise to reflect on its motto that ‘the price of liberty is eternal vigilance’.

It should also take heed of President Roosevelt’s dictum that’ it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees’ when dealing with governments of all persuasions.

Vietnam Veteran Charlie Lynn retired as a major from the Australian Army after 21 years service. He later served in the NSW Parliament for almost 20 years. A veteran of 84 Kokoda Trail crossings he was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Logohu in the 2015 PNG New Years Honours List.

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