I wonder what the ANZACs would think of todays world if they could speak to us from heavens halls. I am sure this world we now inhabit, the lands they fought for, so that we might live with greater freedom and democracy, would leave them puzzled. Or maybe not. For all the advancements we have made in this modern world it is the individuals within society that can tear the fabric of everyday life or weave a gossamer thread through it.
Society at large has not changed that much. Corrupted by power, solace in drugs and alcohol, domestic violence, neighbour disputes, disappointments, achievements, love and war. And so the cycle continues. Im a great believer in each successive generation learning from the past. From history, from family, from friends, from current events at home and across the world. Surely each of us, in our daily lives, are responsible through our thoughts and deeds when it comes to contributing to the collective good of humanity. Like the Anzacs – albeit in the smallest of ways – this too is a form of service.
So many battles have occurred since my paternal grandfather fought on the Western Front during The Great War. The war to end all wars was just the beginning of myriad engagements during the last century but it certainly heralded the horrors of mechanised war-fare and, as with all military engagements changed forever the lives of many.
During World War 1 something like 322,000 Australians served overseas out of a population of 5 million. Some 60,000 of them were killed. 220,000 wounded.
New Zealand sent around 10% of its population (100,000). 17,000 were killed and there were 58,000 casualties.
They are sobering statistics stemming from the many deep-seated issues which divided various great European powers – economic, political and territorial, that culminated in World War 1. No-one could have ever guessed that the war would be prolonged, worldwide and destructive on a previously unseen scale.
Plant some rosemary in your garden and remember. Its found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula. Traditionally, sprigs of rosemary are worn today, Anzac Day April 25: the date Australian troops landed at Gallipoli in 1915. Can you see those young men, scrambling up the rocky hills, being peppered by machine-gun fire, their friends crying out for help?
Regardless of what your beliefs are there should always be a place in our hearts for the good and the brave.