Friday, April 29, 2016

Remembering is not just for one day. It's forever.

And so another ANZAC Day has been and gone.
The inevitable comments began on social media that day, followed by thinkpieces and columns the next.
Why is ANZAC Day for one day? Shouldn't we remember those who died for us, and those who still serve their countries, every single day?
Personally I believe that many Australians already do this.
Perhaps I'm naive.
I know many servicemen and women. Some are members of my family.
Others are friends or partners of friends or family.
There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of them or the sacrifices they made and are making.
Not to mention the sacrifices of those left at home.
Or the problems those who have served overseas live with once they have returned from their assignments, often traumatised by what they have seen and done, left to continue their lives with inadequate counselling and care.
I grew up looking at the photos of those who did not come back from wars and wondering what happened to them. Talking to widows who were mourning deaths or disappearances. Often there was no closure. Just photographs. Maybe some letters.
Of NOT hearing the stories of some who did return, because they did not want to talk about experiences, but reading into the silences and meaningful glances; the talk of nightmares, depression and inexplicable rage and grief.
I breathed in the poetry, the history, and the unbelievable stories of wrongs and hardships which occurred around the world because of war.
In my later years, I visited museums, places of war, photographed uniforms, bombs, machinery. Put on headphones and heard stories of those who had been there..
In my own family, I heard tales that were too unreal to be true. Close encounters and escapes. You could not make this stuff up.
I knew it must not happen again.
And today war. in various ways, continues.
Our servicemen and women are called on to keep the peace, save lives, and to clean up in the aftermath of many atrocities. They also help to restore order and rebuild after natural disasters.
They go through unbelievable hardships, away from their loved ones, from the comforts of home, to do what is right. They see things that should never be seen.
They try to sleep, sometimes on the floor, sometimes on cots; shower in contaminated water; survive on rations; have limited contact with their families; miss out on countless firsts and special events. At home, their partners or families keep the home life together.
As one of our South Burnett Regional Councillors Ros Heit said on April 25 2016, ANZAC Day isn't about celebrating war, but is about remembering the sacrifices of those who gave up their tomorrow so we could enjoy our today.
In modern times, it is also about honouring those who continue to put their lives at risk to do good both in Australia and New Zealand, and where they are needed around the World.
As some Australians celebrated at race days, sports games and concerts, and hashtagged their photos #ANZACS that day, I felt ashamed for our nation.
Was this all that ANZAC Day meant to some Aussies? But my heart also swelled with pride when I watched school children marching with their teachers. I held back tears as I watched veterans waving as they were pushed in wheelchairs by the younger generation.
An image remains in my mind of a strong-armed, straight-backed gent, carrying the Australian flag, not just throughout the march but in the hot sun for the entire ANZAC ceremony at my home town of Wondai. Without wavering.
My own Uncle Percy, a former Mayor, at 90 and sharp as a tack, who had been up for the dawn service playing in the Town Band, gave the keynote address for a later service and then fronted up for yet another service at a nearby town, all without missing a beat.
His speech included tales of his own father's experiences at Gallipoli, together with letters sent home from diggers from the region. He masterfully wove the meaning of these stories in with other wars, and with the significance of the horrors of modern warfare that going on today, including the evil of terrorism and ISIS.
I doubt any Australian politician could have given a better or more poignant speech. And, despite fighting his own invader (cancer) he also stood tall throughout.
Unlike politicians, Uncle Percy doesn't have speechwriters. He wrote it himself and it came from the heart. It was magnificent. He epitomises the Australian Spirit, and I don't mind admitting to getting a bit of water in my eyes at times.
During the ceremony, the plight of those who return home was mentioned often, as was that of those who remain here while their loved ones are away and also support them when they return. Never quite the same  And who need support as well.
Perhaps some people have forgotten about ANZAC Day until next year. However, I'll wager those are the same people who thought of the day as just another holiday. An excuse to get pissed at the races, see a sports game or a concert, and who who told people to 'Fuck Off' for posting too many tributes on social media.
The people who care will continue to remember those who have served us and continue to do so.
Lest we forget?
Not on our watch.

My great-nephews Jack and Connor Hyde, followed by their sister Elliana, with other students from St John's Lutheran School, Kingaroy. They were marching at the Wondai ANZAC parade as part of the St John's Wondai contingent.

My niece Sue Hyde, who attended St John's Lutheran School as a student and now teaches there, with children in the march

Some of the lovely marchers on wheels

The Wondai Town Band

Just some of the marchers

These guys. And the man with the flag.

Uncle Percy, delivering an incredible speech ...

Watched by South Burnett Regional Councillor Ros Heit

Still standing ... and speaking. At the age of 90 and despite an invader of his own. I salute you Uncle Percy.

The Wondai Town Band

Children pay their respects

St John's Lutheran School Captains

Lucy Jacobson plays The Last Post on a bugle that is more than 100 years old.

The human faces of war

Lest We Forget

My cousin Leah wore her late grandfather Percy's medals he was awarded after serving at Gallipolli and the Somme

You can't have ANZAC Day without a band. Or music!

Lest We Forget 

Legacy, the Walking Wounded, and RSL Clubs around Australia all support returned servicemen and women and their families.
For more details, go to,, or your nearest RSL club,


shannon said...

Brilliant post and I totally agree it's so much more than just 1 day on our calendar. Seeing that oic of your uncle Percy gave me goosebumps. Lest we forget...

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I think most people do think about the servicepeople that have given up their lives more than just on Anzac Day. War and casualties of war are unfortunately all over the news every day it seems and it really drives home the reality of war.

Unknown said...

Thank you both. I didn't intend to post about ANZAC Day, hence I wasn't in the best spot for photos. But I was prompted by some pieces in the mainstream media questioning the day - as always - later in the week, and insisting those who had served and who are still serving were already forgotten. Perhaps I live in a sheltered world, and I know there are some people who couldn't give a damn about the day, either on the day or later in the year. But I think they are in the minority. The crowds who turned up at my small home town's ceremonies and throughout the rest of Australia are proof of that.

Karin @ Calm to Conniption said...

My family has always remembered on Anzac Day and with a lot of war memorabilia around our home it is always with us. My husband's family didn't have anyone serve due to being farmers and a bit of luck and he has grown up without attending services or marches. I guess it all comes down to the environment you are in.

Unknown said...

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kereta sewa shah alam said...

what a great moments you’ve got.
hope you enjoyed them.