veterans
History & Traditions

The Spirit Lives On

Early this morning, April 25, more people than usual were up early. What’s more, they were all walking past my house. Where were they going?

If April 25 holds any significance for you, I won’t have to tell you.

The Dawn Service – April 25

At the end of my street is a memorial to Australia’s and New Zealand’s fallen soldiers in war, and April 25 is named, Anzac Day, because of them.

When WWI was declared, many young men, fathers, brothers, sons, signed up as soldiers, volunteering to fight with their Allies in Europe. Many of them faked their age so that the armed forces would accept them for duty. The youngest volunteer was James Martin, a mere 14 years and 3 months old.

James Martin, along with my Great Uncle, were amongst the Australian and New Zealand soldiers, who briefly trained for open desert warfare, prior to travelling to the Dardanelles near Turkey, and came to be known as ‘Anzacs.’

veterans

‘Anzacs’, because they were the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Anzacs because they fought for 8 months in the hellhole campaign that was steep cliff faces and filthy trenches in a place, known as Gallipoli. 8,141 Australians died at Gallipoli and thousands more were injured. Including my Great Uncle ‘Ted’ – Edward Russell.

Many of Australia’s finest, strongest and youngest men were fatally wounded, including one called James Martin, then just 15 years old.

This was not the worst battle in the war. Many more men died on the battlefields in France. Yet the Anzac ‘diggers’ and this spirit represents a special place in the hearts of Australians. They are the most venerated. Anzac day and its tradition of remembrance of them, becomes more popular each and every year.

Gympie

We have few real traditions in our country. Perhaps this is the reason we cling to Anzac Day as it binds our nation together as a community?

Perhaps it is the stories of the death of such a young man as James Martin, the loss of such youthful promise, that brings home to each and every one of us, the enduring horror and consequences of war. Such senseless loss.

The following poem and haunting bugle tune never fails to brings tears to my eyes. In the tune, the bugle player summons the troops to assemble; the bugle calls them once, twice, three times, but the fallen soldiers do not come, nor do they answer.

Anzac day commemorates all servicemen and women who served in conflicts, not just those who died. To honour those who paid the supreme sacrifice, we stand in silence, after the reading of the Ode and the Last Post is played.

Anzac biscuits
Anzac biscuits – these were sent to the troops in Gallipoli by family

And what of James Martin’s family, living far away from the battlefields, in Australia? How did they cope without the boy they once held safe, in their arms?

A mother grieving a lost son; a Father who’d never have a beer or teach his son how to fix a broken car; a brother or sister who’d no longer feel the camaraderie between siblings as they grow, a schoolkid who’d lost his mate, and finally the boy himself, who’d never grow old enough, to become a man.

Every armed conflict and terrorist act, hurts more than just nations, soldiers and civilians, but the raw horror and loss cast a long and painful shadow far and wide.

James, like so many other soldiers gave up his tomorrows, so that we could enjoy today.

War is deeply woven into human history. Organized society and conflict appear to have marched side by side, each affecting the other. Wars have changed societies in many ways but changes in society have also affected the nature of war.

https://rst.org.au/prof-margaret-macmillan-war-and-the-making-of-the-modern-world-friday-10th-august-2018-600-pm-stanley-burbury-theatre-utas/

Have we yet learned the lesson fighting has for us?

wreath veterans

Lest We Forget

Community

Sunday Sayings – Courage

Christchurch has had more than its fair share of tragedy in recent years.

gandhi

I could this week have written about hate crimes. I could this week have written about prejudice or racism, or vile acts of terror,such as we have seen close to home. There has been much of this already in the media, and to write more is to give voice to those who espouse these inhuman views.

Instead, this week, I chose to write about an opposing emotion of courage. It is those that show courage in the face of abhorrent adversity that we should acknowledge louder.

Christchurch has had its fair share of tragedy in recent times. Now the residents must show courage in the face of abhorrent adversity.
Pic credit: kassiisaac

We must generate courage equal to the size of the difficulties we face.

Dalai Lama



Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

– Mary Anne Radmacher


Our morbid interest in these dark events is biological in basis. We are programmed to pay attention to that which we perceive is the greatest threat to us.

This quote is worth remembering:

Perhaps strength doesn’t reside in never having been broken, but in the courage required to grow strong in the broken places.

~Unknown


I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.

Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment.

Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?

Vejen, Denmark
Book review, Community

Invisible Murder – Book Review

With the topic of refugees and terrorism very much in the news, this novel by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis, is written for our time and makes for illuminating reading.

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Two impoverished Roma boys are scavenging for something to sell in the ruins of an abandoned Soviet military hospital. Purportedly to improve the lives of themselves and their poverty-stricken families in a rural village of Hungary, one of the boys embarks on a radical plan. Far away in middle class Denmark, Red cross nurse, Nina Borg inadvertently risks her own life and those of her family, to assist a group of Hungarian refugees but little does she know her actions will have disastrous ramifications.

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Source: Economist.com

“Jobbik. It had to be Jobbik, taking to the streets to protest the Jews, Communists and Romas from ‘ruining out nation.’ Lusja straightened herself up pursing her lips as though she had found something disgusting on her shoe. ‘God spare us from any more racist, goose stepping idiots.’ The driver turned in his seat. ‘Jobbik aren’t racists,’ he said. ‘They’re just for Hungary.’ Lusja straightened up in her seat and stared daggers at the driver, 128 pounds of indignant humanism versus 260 pounds of overweight-but-muscular nationalism. ‘And what kind of Hungary would that be?’ she asked. ‘A Hungary clinically scrubbed of all diversity? A Hungary where you can be arrested just because you skin is a different colour? A Hungary where it’s totally okay for Romas to have a life expectancy that’s fifteen years shorter than the rest of the population?’

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Source: Hungarianfreepress.com

A novel that is carefully crafted and well-balanced, allowing you to understand both sides, their personal  motives and furthermore, to feel empathy for the characters woven into the story line: The studious brother who in one brief moment is denied a legal career and betterment for himself, and his family, only because of a racially slanted agenda, his quest to save his wayward orphan brother who, by way of contrast, chooses an extremist, crash-through course of action, and the consequences for each; the innocent bystanders; the well-meaning humanitarians in Denmark, the terrorist thugs and ordinary residents of homogeneous, suburbia integrating with ‘foreigners’.

Are they all helping or hindering the cause? What toll does it take, personally, on those who help the less fortunate, the traumatized, the dangerous, and those on the fringes of society?

In the face of a changing Europe, this Scandinavian novel illuminates some salient points to ponder about inter-related events that shape our modern lives.

Rating 8/10

Other Novels by these bestselling authors: The Boy in the Suitcase