Often, ANZAC Day falls on a school day. And every time we have an assembly, I cry. Can’t help it. That minute’s silence and the Last Post get me every time. I actually stop and use that silence to try and comprehend what the diggers thought at Gallipoli. To put myself in their boots, running on fear and adrenalin. It’s something I simply can’t comprehend, and yet generations later, the action they took still ring solid and true. Their bravery is unparalleled. I think of war widows, telegram in hand, confirming their worst nightmare. I think of children who never knew their fathers. I think of the selflessness it takes to put your life on the line for what is right, knowing you may well die fighting for the freedom we so often take for granted.
I think of the veterans who returned from war as changed men. Those who struggled with what would later be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The nightmares, flashbacks and memories: a heavy burden to carry. Survivor’s guilt, horrific permanent injuries- these men had to adjust to a ‘normal’ life once they returned to Australia; but how could life ever be ‘normal’ again?
I have the utmost respect for the ANZACs. I respect our war veterans and hope that generations to come will understand the gravity of ANZAC Day, why we mark the day and remember what was sacrificed, at such a high cost. Ultimately, I can’t even begin to comprehend what they went through. I also use the time of silence to pray. Pray for those who were killed. Pray for families who were permanently fractured as a result. I pray for the wounded, and for those who returned with a heavy emotional burden. To me, Anzac Day is also a time to celebrate ‘mate ship’, a quality that is embroidered into the fabric of Australian culture. Most of all, it is a time to reflect, to ensure we NEVER forget.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them.”