Brav­ery gave us free­dom

Gen­er­a­tion that knows war also knows hard­ship

Life & Style Weekend - - MIND - with Nick Ben­nett Nick Ben­nett is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, per­for­mance coach and part­ner of Minds Aligned: mind­

AFEW years ago I was get­ting ready to un­dergo a long and chal­leng­ing med­i­cal treat­ment – 12 months of self-ad­min­is­tered “chemo” to get rid of a liver dis­ease. I had to get my­self phys­i­cally, emo­tion­ally and spir­i­tu­ally ready to cope. As is usual for me I at­tacked this from the phys­i­cal plane first. Per­son­ally I have al­ways found that if my body is in a good state then I have ac­cess to a men­tal dis­ci­pline and out­look that en­sure a growth mind­set, that is, a view of pos­si­bil­ity rather than con­straint. As it turned out, I was def­i­nitely go­ing to need that.

Be­gin­ning well in ad­vance, to pre­pare my­self, I de­ter­mined that if I could com­plete the Kokoda Track just be­fore start­ing treat­ment I would be in the best shape phys­i­cally and men­tally to deal with what was to come. So 12 months out that’s what I did. I gave up al­co­hol, changed my diet and trained ev­ery day to build strength and stamina.

I also read. I read a lot of books on the events of the Kokoda Track, its his­tory be­fore the Sec­ond World War and of the in­cred­i­ble role that the track, its peo­ple and our young and ini­tially in­ex­pe­ri­enced sol­diers played in keep­ing this coun­try safe from a de­ter­mined, ruth­less and re­lent­less en­emy. Au­thors like Peter Brune, JC McAllester, Peter FitzSimons and sev­eral oth­ers have high­lighted the hero­ism and tragedy that bring the story of Kokoda and the bat­tles that raged in PNG to light.

This is our re­cent his­tory – within a gen­er­a­tion – and I wanted to know more. What I wasn’t pre­pared for, what af­fected me and brought to life what I had read in those books or seen in photos, and which made the jour­ney a deeply spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence, was the Bo­mana Ceme­tery be­fore the start of the track at Ow­ers’ Cor­ner.

The small trekking group I was with was given per­mis­sion to en­ter be­fore sun­rise. As the sun rose over this pris­tine ceme­tery, I couldn’t help but note the ex­treme con­trast to the en­vi­ron­ment around that place.

It is sur­rounded by jun­gle-cov­ered moun­tains and hills, ac­ces­si­ble by a rut­ted road and yet it is a man­i­cured and in­cred­i­bly peace­ful me­mo­rial for 3779 peo­ple, mainly men, many young, who fought and died in hor­ren­dous cir­cum­stances

‘‘What I wasn’t pre­pared for, what af­fected me and brought to life what I had read in those books or seen in photos... was the Bo­mana Ceme­tery."

to keep us safe.

My jour­ney from that day, in­clud­ing that trek and the 12 months of the very tough treat­ment reg­i­men that fol­lowed, has been taken with the per­spec­tive that noth­ing that I en­counter in my life goes close to what those brave souls gave to us. Ev­ery­thing we en­counter is about the per­spec­tive we bring to it. Make your­self wor­thy of their sac­ri­fice. Lest we forget.


◗ Lest we forget the sac­ri­fices young sol­diers made on the front­lines of war so that Aus­tralians could en­joy free­dom.

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