Sorry

The late John Prior, my Pop, put pen to paper (literally) in 2007 ahead of the National Apology in February 2008.

My pop was always one to share a joke, riddle or rhyme - but this is one of his more meaningful creations and I am proud to share it so his words an be felt and heard, and the history of our country not forgotten. 

Pop, I promised you before you left us six years ago, that I'd share your words widely, so here you go... 

 

The great south land down under
Away from sight and sound
Known only by its natives
Where flora and fauna abound
 
No town or cities despoiled this land
No fences barred the way
Where the natives’ life was walkabout
Where weather and season held sway
 
Drought then floods beset this place
With bush fires, quakes and dust
The natives mastering all these threats
Led lives of hope and trust
 
A spirit known as dreamtime
Lived deep in the heart of all
A time to reflect on past and present
Of kinsmen long gone to recall
 
The natives honoured the many sites
Where heritage and culture were born
Declared as sacred, revered by all
A place to reflect and to mourn
 
Then one day the natives’ lives
Were changed for evermore
When the first fleet came in long tall ships
And landed on the shore
 
The troopers marched with muskets ready
They paraded on the sand
A flag was raised and guns were fired
They proclaimed they owned the land
 
The strangers had come to conquer
To impose their own foreign law
Had the natives known their intentions
They would have resisted more
 
But spears and sticks were of no avail
When the muskets fired their blast
And as weeks turned to months and then to years
Resistance was a thing of the past
  
Settlement followed the many explorers
And villages and town were born
It mattered not that sacred sites
Were ploughed for growing corn
 
With the coming of disease and alcohol
And the end of traditional ways
Tragedy befell the entire tribes
Who yearned for the earlier days
 
The colonists decided in heartless fashion
That black children should learn white ways
Bewildered and scared they were taken away
For most of their childhood days
 
Thousands of children were abducted this way
Which brought loneliness, heartache and pain
Called today “The Stolen Generation”
Many never saw their families again
 
Some of the natives have gained world renown
And most love the white man’s ways
But deep in their minds and memories
Are yearnings of the walkabout days
 
To lose their land and way of life
With murder and suffering and grief
The natives seek to hear one word
Which would offer them some relief
 
SORRY
 
John Prior
2007

 

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, 13 February 2008

"We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians. We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country."

 

National Sorry Day is held on 26 May each year to acknowledge and recognise members of the Stolen Generations.

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