On 25 April I attended my local Anzac Day service to pay respect and remember all Australians who served and died in war and on operational service. It is one of Australia’s most important national occasions, similar to Remembrance Day in the UK and Memorial Day in the US. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
My Grandfather and Great Uncle George were among the first landing troops at Gallipoli. Grandad survived that disastrous campaign and went on to fight throughout the rest of World War One on the western front in Europe. Tragically, we lost Uncle George on the first day.
During the Second World War my father and several uncles served in the air force. So it was probably no surprise when three of my brothers followed them into military service. Personally, I am relived none of them were still in the forces by the time Australia sent troops into Afghanistan and Iraq. So, on Anzac Day I always take time to reflect on the number of Australians currently serving in the military, and those on active service, in different parts of the world.
But Anzac Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. While it is a day to think about the freedoms that have been won, I also pause and think about the futility of war and how little we have learnt from history.
I meet many people from a refugee background all the time whose families have been impacted by war. I know some of their stories, but others are too traumatised or frightened to speak of their past lives. When I ask them what they most enjoy about living in Australia, the usual answers are freedom and peace. I daresay not too many Australians think about this these days.
Not a week goes by when I don’t think about other what’s going on in different countries. Millions of lives are still affected by different conflicts and war. Countries are still being torn apart over power, religion, culture or other issues. I don’t know the answers, but I continue to hope for a world with more peace, justice and inclusivity for everyone.