The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The Soldier's Day
The Soldier's Day.
The cold grey half light of early dawn shows the landscape in its most cheerless aspect. Objects whicn, under the sun's genial influence, would be things of beauty, look drab and lifeless; no birds sing; even the lizards are still, and the frowning face of nature seems to mourn for the departed glory of yesternoon. The sleeping camp in the little valley looks peaceful enough, the only living thing in sight being the sentry standing, forlorn-looking, at his post. A chill wind blows from the west, and makes the bugler shiver as he leaves the warmth of his blankets to sound the first call on his roster. Standing erect, with the bugle pointing slightly upwards, he gives forth the clear notes of the awakening trump. A sergeant passes quickly along the lines, rousing the occupants of each tent; soon figures appear on every hand—someyavvning, some joking, and some grousing—and the whole sleepy scene is transformed into one of busy life. The sun peeps over the hill top, and it is day.
* * * * * *
Shadows are veiling the hills as the guard turn out at the first sound of the Retreat and stand at attention. The whole camp seems to share in their fixed immobility—a stern mask of rigidity such as enshrouds the dead comrades whom, tradition says, they thus honor. The routine activities are at an end, lights appear in the tents, and relaxation from the day's toil holds all in its clasp. A game of cards a gentle lounge and smoke, the while old times are talked over and ancient battles refought; the employment of the leisure hour or two in writing home. Then the day draws to a close.
* * * * * *
The long,-wailing notes float on the still air—infinitely beautiful, though infinitely sad; the call which is blown in all honor over the soldier's grave, marking the last rest of one whose duty is well done. The bugler's figure, silhouetted against the moonlit skyline, has an eerie look as he delivers his last message for the day. Lights are blown out, pastimes put aside, and soldiers, weary of both work and play, seek the solace of sleep—the day is over.
* * * * * *
Life is like the soldier's day. Reveille sounds, and we arrive in this world—a sleepy, helpless entity—to find our place as life's Day goes on; to lead or be led to great things, till Retreat warns us that our strength is failing, and the decline of our span is at hand. We have time to reflect, and draw bitterness as we consider time wasted in dodging the little fatigues of the Day, or satisfaction as we think of duty done, and obstacles overcome. Toiling as best we can, and taking our meed of pleasure as it come, Last Post at length finds us in varied stages of readiness to sink into the Great Sleep.