Today has been a really emotional day for me. It’s ANZAC day and it’s always a time for reflection and thankfulness. I have found it different this year – as I stood at our local cenotaph, I looked for the first time at the names of those fallen inscribed, and thought of their families. I thought particularly of their mothers as they were delivered the news that their son would not be returning. I felt my heart ache for those mothers, as I am now a mother myself, and could not imagine what that feeling would have been like, to have received a telegraph or opened the door to receive such news. It’s something that I can’t fathom, nor something I ever want to experience.
Today was a time to reflect on my grandfather who fought in WWI and whom I never got to meet. He was 60 when my mother was born and had long since worn the wounds of battle. He fought in France and my mum attended the opening of the Australian War Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, France, in 2008 to commemorate all who fought and died there. My grandfather was one of the fortunate ones, who returned home to his family in Australia, but not without his memories, both mental and physical. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions, and was perhaps, thought by some, not far off deserving the Victoria Cross. Despite the accolades he did or didn’t win, we are so very proud of him, no-one more so than his daughter, who was 9 when he died and denied the opportunity to really get to know him. Mum has done a lot of research on Pop, giving a number of talks and presentations to local organisations on his history and achievements. She beamed proudly as, some time into the talks, she disclosed the reality that he was her father. As her eldest daughter, and I think that I can also speak for her youngest daughter, I can say with complete admiration that I am very proud of her, and all the work that she has done, that without perhaps meaning to, has allowed us to know our grandfather without ever getting to meet him ourselves.
I was also able to reflect today on nations around the world who are currently at war. I thought about all of the innocent civilians who cannot freely go to their local park, walk around their local streets, or attend their local schools, without some fear that they are in harms way. We are so lucky here to be able to do these things without giving a thought that we might be in danger of our lives in doing so. One of my favourite things to do with my son is go to our local civic park and meet with friends. Whilst my little man can’t yet play on the playground by himself, he can sit on a blanket on the grass and play (or chew on) his toys under the canopy of the trees whilst the sun shines warmly down on us. He can breath in clean air and laugh joyously as he plays ever so freely.
I am so thankful for all who have fought for, and continue to fight for, our country. For their hard work in ensuring that we continue to live in a democratic and safe environment.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them.
Lest We Forget.