The Soldier Stood And Faced God
The soldier stood and faced God, Which must always come to pass. He hoped his shoes were shining, just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, you soldier, how shall I deal with you? Have you always turned the other cheek? To My Church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and said, "No, Lord, I guess I haven’t, because those of us who carry guns, Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays, and at times my talk was tough. And sometimes I've been violent, because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny, that wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime, when the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear. And sometimes, God, forgive me, I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place, among the people here.
They never wanted me around, except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord, It needn't be so grand. I never expected or had too much, but if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne, where the saints had often trod. As the soldier waited quietly for the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you soldier, you’ve borne your burdens well. Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets; you’ve done your time in Hell."
Customs & Traditions
SAVATE DAY; HONOURING OUR DEAD
Monuments and ceremonies to commemorate the dead form an integral part of military tradition and 32-Battalion was no exception. On 25 May 1985, the Tree of Honour was officially declared the battalion’s memorial of the dead at a special parade held at Buffalo, the battalion’s base in the Caprivi, attended by the Chief of the Army and for as long as the unit existed, served as the pivot for all memorial services.
Until late in 1984, the only remembrance day marked by the battalion was Savate Day (21 May) – Savate being not only one of the most successful battles of the unit, but also the battle in which the battalion suffered the highest number of casualties. In time, other significant dates were added to the calendar, though not all were observed with full parades or wreath-lying ceremonies, as was the case with Savate Day. By the time of the battalion’s disbanding in 1993, there were eight such special days. Today Savate Day is still honoured by the 32Bn Veterans Association as a general remembrance day for all those who had fallen while serving in the battalion.
“RIDE TO AGADIR" AND THE TANKARDS
Since the death of Capt Charl Muller during Operation Savate in 1980, the haunting song “Ride to Agadir”, composed by Mike Batt, had been adopted as the unit’s personal funeral dirge. Long before he was killed in action, Charl had made it known that if he ever had a military funeral, he wanted this music played instead of the traditional funeral march. His wish was honoured and his wife Zelma allowed the song to be played during his funeral attended by a number of 32 members who flew down to pay their last respects, and so the song became part of 32’s unique final tribute to its dead.
A tradition instituted by the Officer Commanding at the time Col Eddie Viljoen was that when an officer died, his colleagues would gather at the bar and fill their mugs with their beverage of choice for a last toast to the fallen man. The closest friend of the deceased would then deliver a short eulogy, after which “Ride to Agadir” would be played, and one of the officers present would ceremonially smash the glass bottom of the dead man’s tankard (bearing his name), using a miniature hammer specially made for this purpose. A black ribbon was then tied around the tankard before it was hung in its customary place. In due course, a bronze plate bearing the name of the fallen soldier would be mounted below the tankard
As an extension of this tradition, similar mugs, engraved with the dates 27 march 1976 -26 March 1993 were specially made and broken at a private ceremony following the formal disbandment parade in 1993. It was a fitting way to mark the untimely death of a proud battalion whose credo since early 1977 had been Honesty, Loyalty, Justice.