Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lest We Forget

The 25th of April. To most people it's just a day off school or work. They enjoy the day because it's Easter weather which means sunshine and cool air.

But the 25th of April is also ANZAC Day. ANZAC - Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Decades ago, the ANZACs fought for Australia and New Zealand's freedom from oppression and they won. Our land is OUR LAND because they lay down their lives so we could live ours. They laid down their lives for people who hadn't even been born yet because they would rather die than see their families enslaved by tyrants.

In Flanders' Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place, and in the sky
The Larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce hear amid guns below.


Take up the quarrel with the foe;
To you with failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, yet poppies grow
In Flanders' fields.

But ANZAC day doesn't just stand for those who have died. It stands for those who are fighting, every day, to stop people like Gaddafi from spreading from Libya and into our countries. There is nothing more powerful than the heart of a volunteer, and that these people will lay down their lives so we can live in peace and freedom is something that needs to be acknowledged.

I don't support war. But I support our soldiers. There's a difference. My heroes don't fly through the sky wearing capes with their underwear on the outside of their tights; my heroes walk through war torn countries in battle fatigues wearing dog tags. My heroes have families, children, parents, waiting for them to return home. My heroes spend sleepless nights traveling from village to village, waging war against terrorists and extremists.

My heroes often end up dead. Their weakness isn't Kryptonite, the Joker, or Catwoman - their weakness, and their strength, is their love for their families, their countries. The reason they go to fight is their families. Their families are the ones targeted however indirectly by the people they're fighting. And this doesn't just go for Australians or New Zealanders; this goes for EVERYONE. War isn't honorable but soldiers are.

When I was on holiday, we went to the Australian War Memorial, a place where a flame was lit and burns eternally in memory of the courage of all the soldiers that have been and will ever be in service of our country. The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is in a secluded chamber; he was a boy - seventeen years old - whose body was never identified.

And then we visited the walls. Two huge walls inscribed top to bottom with the names of every serviceman who ever died in every war fought by Australians and New Zealanders. The poppies on the wall symbolise their continuing memory - after the fighting had ceased, poppies grew in the wasteland that had become the battlefield. They were the only thing that grew. It reminded people of what they were fighting for.

This is only half of one of the walls.

Today isn't a day of glorified celebration of war. Today is a day of grieving for all the people who were lost and all the people who will be lost just because a few politicians don't know how to live in peace. I lost both grandfathers to this war. I have no doubt others have lost more than that. We'll all lose more.



-A Solitary Blue

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