EX-SERVICEMEN'S PAGE "THE HARVEST IS SOWN"
(By TROOPER) "Follow after! —We are waiting by the traits that we lost, For the sound of many footsteps, for the tread of a host. Follow after! Follow after!— For the harvest is sown: By the bones about the wayside ye shall come to your own." ' ' •—Kipling.
ON a lovely summer day in early January in the year 1940 I stood on the bank of the Auckland Domain, one of many thousands assembled to witness the parade of the Auckland section of the First Echelon, the first of the many men to leave for service overseas in the second World War, which might in fact be called the second phase of the World War, begun in August, 1914. "Follow After!" These men were in very truth to follow after, in the steps of their fathers led in many cases by them, by men who had learned to lead in the hard school of war. That fair day we listened to even fairer promises made to these lads, promises which awoke echoes of such similar fair words uttered a quarter of a century before to many of the listeners. In this page I wrote at the time an article questioning the value of these newly made promises to men now to follow after. I doubted then their sincerity. The years between have, if anything, heightened my doubts. Capitulation of Japan The last act in this second phase of the World War closes with the capitulation of Japan. The time has come for some stock taking, for some estimate of the harvest that has been sown, for war inevitably sows a harvest. In its conduct it sows death and disablement; sorrow and loss; broken homes and vacant chairs. It sows more than these. It sows lost opportunities, lost valuable years, years of the greatest importance in the lives of the young men who always bear the brunt, who, on their return, scarce ever catch up. With hearts beating high in response to the call of duty, patriotism or adventure they set forth, urged on by the utterances of
those placed in the position of not only making them but, for the time being at least, of carrying them out; the further reaping that should be part of the harvest that is sown. But, how dare we blame only the makers of these promises to our lads? They did not fight for • the politicians, who, then and in the past, carried some responsibility for the very fact that we had this second outbreak of war on our hands, a responsibility, however great their failure to realise and meet, had become too late to regret or alter. The result was here and had to be dealt with though it meant stern and total war. Must we not, now, ask ourselves if we, each one of us, is not responsible for seeing that these lads do in truth, and without stint, get all they deserve and reap to the full a bumper harvest of the better things they believed they were sowing, and which we promised them should be theirs? Just Rights of Service Let us demand with one loud and united .voice that these sailors, soldiers and airmen of ours will have homes, good homes, in which to marry and raise families. Let us also insist they have work at remunerative rates, commensurate with their age and familiy obligations, in spite of their lost years of experience and opportunity; and not be content to see them assigned to grandiose schemes of little better than "relief work" on roads or elsewhere.
Let us demand they have businesses of their own, even should this necessitate disposessing aliens, refugees, or what ever they like to call themselves, of such as they have acquired in our lads' absence, and profited richly by. We have freed the countries these people came from. They are now free to go back to them, and we should see to it they exercise the right we have given them.
These are but a few of the things we owe our men, which it is outplain and inescapeable duty to see they get. They are "waiting for the tread of a host," not of dead promises but of living men and women determined in purpose that they shall "come to their own."
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EX-SERVICEMEN'S PAGE "THE HARVEST IS SOWN", Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 192, 15 August 1945
EX-SERVICEMEN'S PAGE "THE HARVEST IS SOWN" Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 192, 15 August 1945
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