I see the picture and wonder. Are the soldiers marching to the sound of battle or preparing for battle tomorrow?
They seem purposeful and stolid, but must also be terrified. The universal code of soldiers prevents them from showing fear at the probability of their death somewhere past the mules over the horizon. In our relatively safe, comfortable time and space this is incomprehensible.
These Australian soldiers are not unique: The American generation born around 1900 lived their personal anxiety as did the generation born mainly after 1920. When told at basic training, either the soldier on the right or left would likely not return home whole.
My generation from the mid 40s to early 50s experienced the vision of death in a rice paddy, vividly reinforced by the nightly news. The Xers died in the hot, forlorn desert without the military draft. The Silent Generation died in the frozen waste or stifling heat of Korea with the military draft. Applying the universal code, we all handled our concern personally.
Some embraced the persona of warrior duty exuberantly. Others, with the nagging fate of death faraway accepted (however reluctantly) their service as the lawful prerogative of our government. For many it may have been that duty calls or the inevitability of doing what is expected by friends and family. In the long run, personal rationale made little difference, except we have remained worthy of respect.
Those not serving hid in plain sight or confronted THE MAN yelling: “Hell No We Won’t Go!!” – They have avoided the demons and the fight, and opportunistically have inherited the Earth
Those who served learned discipline to survive in harm’s way and that should have made them more resilient as their years proceeded. Instead, their influence has dissipated because they have lost the leverage of triumph while remaining worthy of respect. The explanation: Victory has been rendered ambiguous or lost by those who have led us.
Where do we go from here?
Only forward, past the mules, over the horizon. Anything else would offend the code.