I write this post on the eve of Anzac Day 2012. Whether I agree or disagree with why Australia sent her best men and women to fight wars half a world away is irrevelant. The important thing today is to remember the sacrifice these men and women made believing they were striving for a way of life that meant freedom for the people they fought for.
Men and women with big hearts laid down their work tools to answer the call "Your Country Needs You". Prepared to put their lives on the line for others, they were someone's husband, father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, friend or lover, who were out in the muddied trenches with the rats; ducking from the bullets that whistled over their head; not sure when they would find time for their next meal let alone a cup of tea; tired, wet and exhausted as they lived and fought in the rain soaked trenches; men bleeding to death next to them crying out for mercy from the pain of a wound. The women weren't in the trenches, but they dealt with the wounded men and in their other support roles, they died, too. A huge sacrifice. If they survived, most of the returned soldiers lived with nightmares; some without limbs and other psychological problems too numerous to mention.
I'm not sure how and if the human cost of war can be counted. Not only do we need to consider those who have died on the battlefield, but there are those on the home front who have to suffer long after the war is over. In many cases for the rest of their lives. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is common among returned service men and women. As a society we need to uphold these heroes and support them in any way we can because it is the leaders of our country who make the decisions that war be declared, not the soldiers. Surely there has to be a better way.
On April 25, my husband and I will gather at the cenotaph with thousands of Australians and New Zealanders to pay our respects. There are many more thousands who celebrate our way of life in their own way on ANZAC Day, too. Whatever way you commemorate ANZAC Day, let's do it so that we do not forget, so this terrible massacre never happens again.