Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lest We Forget

 They were sons, husbands, fathers, uncles.

They went for glory, for adventure, for duty, to escape.

They found stinking death, swarms of flies, thick, cloying mud, greasy filth, rampant disease, lakes of blood and a four year nightmare of horror.

Through scorching heat, frigid cold and torrential rain, they fought against the Turks, the Germans and British incompetence.

And when it was done, they came home, forever changed and chose not to speak of it - heroes, every one of them.

On this day, we commemorate the 97th Anniversary of the Landing at Gallipoli and the eight-month long campaign. We also commemorate the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in all wars.

On this day, I think of my paternal grandfather fighting at Passchendaele, of my great uncle, severely wounded rowing British soldiers ashore at Gallipoli, of my maternal grandfather, not yet twenty, losing his leg - and of his brothers, none of whom came home uninjured. But return they did, scarred in body if not in mind.

And then, the next generation found themselves called to arms to once again fight against the tyranny and arrogance of Germany.

Korea soon followed the end of the Second World War, and then Malaya and Vietnam. Iraq, too.

Now, we're involved in Afghanistan, but soon to come home.

For more than a century, our armed services have bravely done their duty, no matter the odds or orders. Australia's fighting forces have earned the respect of all other armies by doing, not just sayin'.

Today I thank all those for their sacrifice, I thank them for the courage to do what I cannot. And I raise a glass to them.

I will not forget.