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Thursday 23 April, 2015
A very recent near death experience has strongly reinforced to me the importance of each and every person who walks this earth and, in particular as we close in on the Centenary of the landings at Gallipoli, all those who have served our country.
My experience was a motor vehicle accident which, but for my seat belt, would have added me to Australia’s national road death statistics.
However, it was the concern and worry shown me by so many members of my family, work colleagues and friends that really struck me. As I was lying in my hospital bed pondering preparations for Anzac Day, I wondered what effect the loss of 62,000 Australians and the tens of thousands more who came home wounded, had on a young country during and following the Great War. Though certainly not trying to compare my plight to that of the men and women who have died in the service of our country over the last 100 plus years, I was trying to simply comprehend the significant effect these losses and casualties had on our communities. Apart from the physical demands on our medical systems and the loss of knowledge, creativity and skills which would have benefitted our community post war, the grief that must have overwhelmed our suburbs and country towns is beyond my comprehension, yet this is exactly what ANZAC Day calls on us to do; to reflect on this loss and on its far-reaching impact.
All life is precious. While we might tend to focus on the high profile servicemen and women such as those awarded Victoria Crosses, generals and leaders, the reality is that every person who has put on a uniform in any conflict has done so knowing they are potentially going to have to place themselves in harm’s way and worse still to undertake otherwise repulsive acts of violence on fellow human beings.
‘We will remember them’ is a commitment by us all to take a moment to think about each and every man and woman who has died in a foreign field, at sea or in the air. We also think of those who carry horrendous physical and psychological wounds home, so many of whom take decades to heal, if ever.
This remembering should not be restricted to Anzac Day. Each life given is worth far more than that annual event of remembrance. It is a case of us as a mature, educated and caring society, taking all steps on a continual basis to ensure we remember. The sacrifice of Australia’s servicemen and women can too easily be lost in statistics; reduced to a number rather than remembered as a father, brother, sister, uncle, friend, colleague, mate. ‘We will remember them’ hardly seems strong enough as I reflect on Anzac Day 2015. I think ‘we must remember them’ better states the commitment required to ensure we appreciate that every life is precious, and that those who died on duty for us remind us of this daily.
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