May we never, ever forget the brave men and women of our Australian Defence Force…past and present…and future….
May we also forever honour and hold dear to our hearts those who have stood beside us - our revered neighbour across the Tasman Sea - New Zealand.
Present and future generations of Aussies must always, unreservedly, be grateful to the members of our ADF – the Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force - for their service; for the selfless sacrifices they’ve made, and will continue making…ad infinitum.
Those in our ADF have my absolute admiration. They always have….my respectful admiration will never cease as long as I live….
When my late brother and I were children we created wreaths with chrysanthemums and other flowers from our garden to place on Gympie’s Memorial Gates in honour of Anzac Day. With our grandmother and mother by our sides we attended Anzac Day services. .
Anzac Day I treat with devout reverence. It is our national day filled with raw emotion and pride. Up until a couple of years ago I physically attended our mountain Dawn Service. Although I no longer attend the Service in person, within my four walls I continue my long-held tradition.
From 4.30 am forth I’m glued to my television screen. A fitting start to the special, sombre day of respectful remembrance is the Currumbin RSL Dawn Service at Elephant Rock, followed by full coverage of various commemorative events throughout Australia, which includes Brisbane’s stirring Anzac Day Parade; continuing through to Gallipoli Cove’s Dawn Service; culminating with the venerating Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux – the French town re-captured by two Australian brigades and a British brigade from 24th to 27th April, 1918, after the Battles of the Somme.
My brother Graham’s and my father, and our uncle, our mother’s younger brother, were the best of mates when they were a couple of brash, strapping, knock-about lads.
Together they joined the army. Side by side, they served our country during the Second World War.
Our maternal grandfather was an air-raid warden in Rockhampton. In the back yard of their home in Elphinstone Street, North Rockhampton was an air-raid shelter. Nearby neighbours huddled together therein many times.
During WWll Camp Rockhampton was a large US Military camp. It spread across a vast area of Rockhampton – 22 areas in total. One of our father’s sisters married a US soldier. The couple settled in the United States where their raised their family. I have photos of my father and my uncle proudly attired in their uniforms. Two fit, handsome young men at the time – both have since passed away.
The son of long-standing, dear friends holds the rank of Major in our Australian Defence Force. He has seen action in Afghanistan and in the Middle East. I swell with pride when thinking of him. In saying that, I can’t begin to understand the depth of pride his parents feel about their son. I can’t imagine his parents’ concern when he was overseas amidst the arenas of war. I can’t begin to imagine what any parent feels when their child is among the mayhem and uncertainties of battlefields.
From 1976 through to the early 80s I had the good fortune to call the now late David Hackworth, author, military journalist and former United States Army colonel a friend. David was decorated in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He earned over 90 US and foreign military awards.
After returning to the U.S in the mid-80s David began working for “Newsweek” as a contributing editor on defense issues. He also made regular television appearances to discuss various military-related topics, including the psychological effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
David was a humble man - one who never boasted about his achievements, or the number of medals bestowed upon him. A fine, intelligent man, he had a contagious sense of humour. Generously, he shared his love of fun with those around him. Those whose company he enjoyed. He didn’t suffer fools…not even easily.
Sadly, David passed away in 2005, aged 74. He and I shared the same birth date…11th November…Armistice Day. David is interred at Arlington Military Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.
The brave men and women of our Australian Defence Force, and those of our Allies, deserve our inexhaustible respect.
Members of our ADF make sacrifices, as do their loved ones; sacrifices most of us could not imagine in our wildest nightmares.
Lest We Forget….