How can I go home and not get
Steve Prestwich. Drummer, Cold Chisel
April 25th conjures images of young men dressed in slouch hats and khaki, marching away. Bidding farewell to the suburbs of Melbourne, to the vast hinterland of Queensland, to the sun kissed joy of Bondi waves or Barossa Valley nights, and fighting in countries they’d only seen on faded chalkboard maps. The boys from the outskirts of Rotorua, the edges of Queenstown, the playgrounds of the North Island. Striding out to war.
ANZAC day is our national day of remembrance. A day of showing gratitude for the chosen few who sacrificed so much for so many, without realizing they’d been chosen or (perhaps) the extent of their sacrifice. Many recruits were (in modern day terms) naive to the world of chaos and atrocities that awaited them. Some boys were 15 and exaggerated their age so they could be considered for the armed forces, snatching at their uniforms as eagerly as if they were receiving their first football guernsey.
Many considered it akin to embarking on an adventure of a lifetime.
But they ended up serving the violent requirement of some other bloke’s crusade, some other government’s agenda, and they learnt on the job. And they were ill-equipped for the job, and they struggled with the job, and they put their heart and soul into this job. Then they died on the job, or they came home and faced the reality of an existence they’d left behind, only to have it thrust into their shellshocked faces. They’d left some of themselves entrenched in the battlefields of Europe and Asia. How could they go home and not get blown away?
We will never forget.
Traditionally, ANZAC day honours the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps members who served in Gallipoli during World War 1. In 2010, we remember all those servicemen and women who have represented their country in times of tragedy, and thank them for giving us freedom and light. Their sacrifices will never go unnoticed, as we vote for the person we want in government, as we walk the streets free from oppressive military presence, as we allow our children a freedom of speech, and as we breathe an air filtered from dictatorship.
We never glorify war. I abhor it, and perhaps it’s time to use the ultimate sacrifices of these men and women as a concrete reminder of how wars maim humanity. Of how wars maim.