A time to remember the fallen
Pause a minute for thanks
They grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them. They are words that we have all heard a lot over the years.
On Sunday, they are set to have special significance, as Australia marks 100 years since the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.
Remembrance Day services throughout the country, including one in Cannonvale, will see us pause for a minute’s silence at 11am – exactly a century on from the end of the war that was supposed to end all wars.
All those who have served in the defence forces should be remembered on Sunday.
Personally, I will be thinking about my great great uncle Michael “Ward” Rush who fought with the ANZACs in Gallipoli.
An Australian, he was too young to join the army here, so instead hopped on a ship to New Zealand, upped his age, and joined the army there.
He survived Gallipoli and went on to fight for the New Zealanders elsewhere in that war.
When World War II started, he again joined up – this time for Australia. He also survived that war. Today he will be honoured with a NZ war grave in a ceremony at a Melbourne cemetery. I will also remember my other relations, including my great uncle Leo Rush, who for years never much talked about his war experiences.
It was only when I lived in Darwin that he revealed he had served there during the bombing in World War II.
During those times, the Australians were very under-prepared for the bombings on Darwin by the Japanese.
I heard stories how when the planes were flying over on bombing raids, the Australians would point broomsticks they had blackened with ash from a fire up at the planes because there were not enough guns.
Leo told me of another time he hid under a water tank on the Darwin wharf during the bombing raids on the town.
I will also remember my mates who have fought in places like Afganistan, Iraq and Timor.
They were also part of the force that went into places like Aceh after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Some of the things they have seen are horrific.
I will also remember those veterans – from World War II, Vietnam, Korea and Afganistan – I have written stories on over the years as part of my job: It is quite a privilege to be able to hear stories first-hand from veterans.
Many have told me things they later admitted they had never told anyone before.
I can only hope my words do them justice.
I will also remember my friend’s daughter who joined the army this year. Her service to Australia is ahead of her.
I remember those who have died in wars, and those who have sadly taken their lives in years since – unable to properly deal with the horrors they have seen.
I will remember them all.
TIME TO REMEMBER: Poppies are one of the symbols of Remembrance Day.