Freedom or slavery [6 April 1917]

[Editor: An article regarding World War One. Published in The Eltham and Whittlesea Shires Advertiser and Diamond Creek Valley Advocate, 6 April 1917.]

Freedom or slavery.

Only one more big “push” to victory, Australia!

As lonely I sit dreaming, my heart and thoughts fly to the land of the Southern Cross; for absence makes the heart grow fonder and experience too. Many of us have learnt by now the wonderful value of far-off Australia. We know it to be the best country, and its people the finest in the world.

Though many here try to do their best for us, we feel like orphans in a workhouse.

The day is very cold, but thoughts are warm. It seems an eternity since we voyaged across from all that was brightest and best. And in this Old World, with all its age and wisdom, one finds the greatest sin and sorrow.

Slowly the snow drifts down. Gracefully it floats from Heaven to earth-this blood-soaked earth-the horror of the world. ’Neath its fleecy mantle the war-strewn scene lies hidden from the sight of man, bu[t not] of God. Peacefully it wraps the last sleep of the flower of manhood. And the silent heroes here are legion.

Never will their valor be forgotten, though each name may fade away in the distant future.

But is not this the greatest and most awful of all great wars? Surely then their names will live with their deeds.

And in those desolate homes which have given all to this great cause, there the shrine of memory will be ever bright. No praise, no reward can compensate them. The nation sorrows with them, for when duty called they failed not.

Those who preach of the glory of war have fought only by a comfortable fireside. Stern reality would stagger them.

The cheering throng reward the valor of those receiving the Victoria Cross, or the Military Cross. But what of those who sleep ’neath their wooden cross? The nation must not forget those dear ones left behind, by those thousands of heroic dead.

Those gallant sons of the South have played their part. We never thought otherwise. They have done much more.

Their valor has resounded to the outermost world. Never let our people forget it. Now is the time to acknowledge it. The Empire owes a deep debt of gratitude, nothing is too good for them. Heroes every one.

It is a sacred duty to honour truth first. In honouring her we honour ourselves. And truth holds fast in the web of duty. So I say that Australia is not doing her duty to them, not as freely as she can.

In all classes there are some escaping their obligations both in wealth and strength.

Whose war is this? Is it not the fight of Democracy for its very life? Against the terrible Prussian militarism which has shot thousands of German democrats who refused to fight.

Mr G. J. Wardle, M P., Chairman of the Labour Conference representing 2½ million workers of Britain, said:—

“For my part having war, suspicious of courts and chancelleries, and intensely desirous of peace, it did not take me very long to make up my mind, and I am convinced to-day as I was at the outset that there could only have been one greater tragedy than the war, and that would have been for Britain to keep out of it.”

And the Conference almost unanimously endorsed it.

Then Mr John Redmond, MP, the giant Irish leader at the reception to the Irish Canadian Rangers at Dublin, recently wrote:— Ireland is very proud of those sons of the Irish race, who, in every part of the Empire, have followed the lead which Ireland herself gave from the commencement of the war. Very many of my colleagues and myself, on scores of public platforms, declared that Ireland’s highest interest was in the speedy and victorious ending of the war. And I have never ceased from that day to this in pointing out where Ireland’s destiny, honour, and duty lie in this struggle in defence of civilization and liberty.

We throughout the Empire fight and stand together for Peace. Labour has always championed the cause of the oppressed, of liberty and of justice. And it will do so until the end.

So from the battlefields of France I ask that every atom of wealth and strength be given us, not from a few, but from all the people. Then will we be strong enough to crush that cowardly militarism now overshadowing the world.

And when that is won, the joy-bells of peace will ring triumphant upon a sadder, but I hope a wiser world.

Alfred T. Ozanne.

10 / 2 / 17.

The Eltham and Whittlesea Shires Advertiser and Diamond Creek Valley Advocate (Evelyn, Vic.), Friday 6 April 1917, page 3

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