Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. I tweeted to my Aussie friend Kate this morning to let her know I was thinking about them. She happens to be a great writer as well as a blogger and published a wonderful piece yesterday that she graciously tweeted me back a link to: hercanberra.com.au/index.php/2012 For my non-antipodal friends – ANZAC Day is the equivalent of Memorial Dayhere in the US. They start the remembrances a bit earlier in the day than we do (at dawn) and some of the customs differ, but the intent is the same – to remember, reflect, honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and be grateful. Grateful for liberty – and the freedoms it is sometimes very easy to take for granted.
In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
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 heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
My family has a history of military service. My father served in the Navy during World War 2. My step-father – Army, during the Korean War. My father in law made the Navy his career – serving on nuclear missile submarines during the Viet Nam War and afterwards. 5 of my brothers-in-law and two of my sisters in law are former military.( 1 dolphin, 3 swabbies, 1 cannon fodder, and 2 airdales.) My best friend’s husband is a Veteran Marine (there’s no such thing as a “former” Marine). Her younger brother (my honorary one) is a retired Army Ranger -served an 18 month tour in Iraq, and both his sons are currently enlisted. Each made personal sacrifices to do something they felt was important – serve their country. At best, this service cost them precious time with their loved ones.
97 years ago at Gallipoli several thousand young men on both sides of the conflict paid a higher price. As Australia and New Zealand honour their heroes, let us all stop to remember that serving in the Armed Forces is the pinnacle of Community Service. So from this Yank to my friends from Oz – Good on ya Mates! Thank you! I’m gonna go sing ‘Waltzing Matilda‘ now….