Lest we forget

This year’s Anzac Day will be like no other.
There will be no public commemorations as the nation concentrates on waging war against another enemy – Covid-19.
With social distancing requirements meaning most cenotaphs across Australia will remain unattended at dawn as they do most mornings – perhaps with a smattering of well spaced individuals – there has been a ‘call to arms’ by the RSL for people to continue their association with the day.
People are encouraged to be at the end of their driveways at dawn on Saturday to engage in their own memorial.
Of course there will be no pomp and ceremony, no parade and no Last Post.
But none of that really matters anyway.
What really matters occurs in that one, silent minute when we concentrate all our thoughts on what has gone before us and what might have been.
Today we give thanks that it wasn’t us crouched in that stinking, muddy trench, wild-eyed with fear and bayonets fixed waiting for the call to go ‘over the top’ into a withering hail of gunfire.
We give thanks that, simply through the fortune of being born when we were, we did not have to leave our homes and loved ones to die by the thousands in the blistering deserts of north Africa or the steamy jungles of Burma.
We give thanks we did not have to hold the hand of our mate in an enemy bomb crater as the battle raged around us while his life bled from his shattered body and pooled in a puddle around our boots.
We give thanks we did not have to exhaustedly scratch out a letter with a stubby pencil by flickering candlelight to unknowing mothers to tell them of the death of their ‘boy’, how brave he was and how he died a hero, when in fact he died like a dog.
We give thanks we did not have to deliberately kill a beautiful, intelligent, kind, funny and caring man who looked just like us, simply because he was wearing another uniform.
Yes, there is a lot to be grateful for in that one, quiet minute.
It can take a lot longer for all that thanks to pour out of us than 60 seconds allows.
So this year without a barking sergeant major in charge of the ceremony we have an opportunity to take our time at the end of our driveways and make this Anzac Day the most meaningful ever.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.