I've been trying for days to write a post about what ANZAC Day means to me & each time I start, my eyes brim with tears and before I even get past the first paragraph, the tears start rolling down my cheeks, just as they are now.
ANZAC Day will always remind me of my grandfather, a veteran of WWII he sacrificed a promising sporting career & his sanity to fight for our country. Like so many others, he went to war a strong, fit, idealistic, young man & returned wounded, 'shell-shocked' and his career in tatters.
He married a woman he didn't love for the sake of mateship, a promise made during war to his best friend. A marriage that couldn't last, the ramifications of which my mother still speaks of today. As for shell-shock, he never spoke of it, nor his experiences at war. We now know it to be PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), but in those days it was an unknown entity. My grandfather 'coped' by turning to the bottle, becoming an alcoholic, and at times, belligerent drunk.
His was a troubled and un-pretty life following war, but there was one day each year where he became someone extra-special. One day of the year that filled him with more excitement and anticipation than a child waiting for Christmas. His suit extra-crisp, his shoes more shiny than a mirror, his medals polished to perfection & worn on a chest swollen with pride. The day he & his mates marched side-by-side down the streets of Sydney to say: "Australia, we did this for you". He is no longer with us but his spirit lives on in the spirit of ANZAC Day and his medals are now proudly worn my brother in honour and remembrance of him.
I am so very, very grateful to every man, woman and child (many were under-age) who has fought and served for our country and for our freedom. Whether it has been in foreign conflicts, as peace-keepers or in full-scale war. Each & every one of them has contributed to who I am as an Australian and who I am as a human being. Many sacrificed their lives. Others, like my grandfather, sacrificed their futures. I will not take that for granted. I will honour their sacrifice by living the best life I know how: by being happy, expressing gratitude, being a good person, speaking up for the rights of the abused and vulnerable, and never standing idly by. That's the best 'Thank You' I know how to give and the best way I know how to 'Remember Them'!