For those readers that aren’t Australian or Kiwi, today is ANZAC Day – a public holiday here in New Zealand. ANZAC stands for Australian & New Zealand Army Corps and it is a day when we remember those who have served in the defence forces to protect our countries and the special link that Australia and New Zealand have.
Growing up, I knew what it meant and I understood why we had this day but it didn’t really mean a lot to me other than a day off school and some red poppies. I understood the idea of sacrifice but not truly what it meant. I understood that my policemen uncles put their lives on the line but I didn’t really get it.
Then 2012 happened. The news blared on TV. Five New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Five soldiers who were part of the same unit as a dear friend’s partner. Suddenly the sacrifices that soldiers and their families made was real. My heart was in my throat at the thought of C in danger and I can’t even begin to imagine how G was feeling. It struck me then that, time after time, we’ve sent our soldiers into danger to serve and protect and that even in these days of modern warfare there is absolutely no guarantee that they will come safely home. It wasn’t a hypothetical any more. It was real.
The following ANZAC Day we were in Melbourne. We watched the troops marching to the Shrine of Remembrance and for the first time at an ANZAC service, I had tears streaming down my face. Thinking of how difficult it would have been for these men and women to leave their families. Thinking about the ones that didn’t come back. Thinking about how lucky we all were that C did.
I’m hoping to make the morning service with CJ this morning, but even if we don’t I’ll be taking him down to our local memorial today to show him the poppy wreaths and explain what so many of our friends and relatives have done to protect our country. I know he won’t get it now – he is only two – but it’s become really important to me that he does get it as he grows up. That it’s not just something that happens to other people, it’s about what “Suh-bin”‘s daddy and Uncle T do to make the world safe for him to live in. I don’t want him to think of ANZAC Day as just red poppies and a day off school; I want him to understand that the freedom of people around the world is built off the back of people who sacrificed everything.
If you or your family serve, we thank you.