t is 100 years since the ANZACS stepped ashore at Gallipoli.
I write this post with tears in my eyes. I woke up early this morning thinking about Anzac Day and the mothers of the young soldiers who left Australia in November, 1914 to fight half way around the world. My chest tightened with fear and sadness as I put myself in the mother's shoes visualising my twenty-one year old son leaving for foreign shores to fight an unseen enemy. I can't describe the pain and anguish that clenched my heart so hard I could hardly breathe. The women didn't know how long their men would be away for, or if they would ever see them again.
Some mothers lost two, three or more sons as well as their husband. The pain must have been indescribable. It is often said that time heals, but I'm sure the ache is carried in these mother's hearts until they die. Likewise, the men and women who came back with the memories and/or injuries of the events shared with their mates who didn't make it would leave a perpetual agony inside them for those lives lost. I'm sure they wish it had been them who had died instead of their mates. The soldiers march today with memories and, I'm sure, feeling the presence of their mates beside them while they pray for future generations that they will be spared the pain that war brought to them.
What impresses me about the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in the early part of last century was their eagerness to serve the mother country, Great Britain. They held an allegiance in their hearts that spurred them on to want to protect. Their efforts have given us the freedom we enjoy today.
Thank you men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to all those who have returned, I honour you. You live with the memories of war every day. That can't be easy. To all our soldiers who've served on foreign land since Gallipoli and are serving today, I salute you, too, for your willingness to serve and protect lives throughout the world. Please know that your courage and work inspires others. Anzac Day is your day to accept, without reservation, the admiration and respect of our community . Thank you for the priceless gift of yourself to Australia and New Zealand.
Lest we forget...
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.