Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ANZAC Day is a Day of Remembrance

Anzac Day ‘lest we forget’ is a day of remembrance

A day we honour those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, those many who now lay at rest in foreign fields, and those who came home forever changed by a war of unimaginable attrition and carnage, a war described as the war to end all wars. Anzac Day is also a celebration of what they by their devotion, duty and bravery bequeathed us.

Those brave, selfless men and women who whether motivated by adventure, patriotism or defence of our values and right to live freely in peace are all gone now but will never be forgotten. They are indelibly fixed in our generation and will be for generations to come.

Many of those survivors joined by a new generation of Australian’s and New Zealander’s stepped back into the breech, putting themselves in harms way when 21 years later a madman tried to once again conquer the world to place it under a regressive and murderous regime. Their hard won victory saw these brave souls welcomed home as heroes by a grateful nation that showered them in glory with ticker tape parades through almost every city and town.

No war ever exposed its horrors to the public like the 1962 - 1975 Vietnam War. On nightly television while sitting in our lounge rooms we saw and heard what war did to the human body, to children, their families to people’s homes, and the overall impact it had on those innocents and soldiers alike embroiled in it. This was my war. I was too young to go while serving as a volunteer soldier in the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment.

Those of us too young for overseas duty in a war zone were transferred to the 5th Battalion RAR. I was honourably discharged while in C Company 5 RAR before they left for the blood soaked rice paddies and controversial hellhole that was Vietnam in 1966. 

I lost a lot of friends there, friends who served in both of these Battalions and was angered as most of us soldiers were when spat upon and called baby killers, a misguided sentiment generate by a volatile political climate and a public confronted with the nightly horrors of war that our television screens displayed.

There was no honour parade for our returning Vietnam veterans, instead they were openly vilified and ostracised until they were finally recognised for their service to of our country in 2012. To their credit and despite their long suffering undeserved stigmatization, they accepted the nation’s apology with good grace.

Our military men and women have since served in the Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor and currently serve in the war against ISIL.

We must never forget that at the worst of times these brave men and women who choose to place themselves in harms way are the last barrier of protection for all we value, our freedom, our families, children, friends and our chosen way of life. 

And especially for those who make the ultimate sacrifice, ‘we will remember them.’

© 2017 Bob Janssen

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