Blog: Remembrance Day - Lest We Forget
This week in our Principal’s Assembly, Eliza in Year 10 gave this powerful and moving speech about the meaning of Remembrance Day, explaining why it personally resonates with her.
On Remembrance Day, we pause to think about the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, when the guns fell silent on the Western Front to end the First World War. The war brought destruction and death at a level the world had never seen before. It was thought to be the war to end all wars. It was not.
Most of us will have our own views about war and its impact. Personally, my relationship with war began on 4 October 2005. On that day, an Army Major, who was commanding the Australian Security Detachment defending the Australian Embassy in Baghdad in the middle of the Iraq War, received a phone call. Through the satellite phone connection, he heard three words: “It’s a girl!” The Major was my dad, and this was the moment he found out that I had been born. When he got home from Baghdad four months later, Dad and I officially met. This was his third operational tour of duty.
On Remembrance Day, we remember those who have served their country in war. More than 100,000 Australians have died fighting to defend Australia. Many, many more have been wounded, injured, and traumatised. Countless families have been shattered. We remember them all and honour their sacrifice and service.
Sometimes it’s easy to think about war as something that happened in the past. Trenches of World War One a century ago. Stories of Gallipoli. Veterans of war as old people.
This is not how I see it. For me, as a proud Army brat, service and sacrifice is something that happens every day. Since Dad came back from Iraq 16 years ago, he has been deployed on four more operational deployments. In today’s Army they call them ‘deployments’ but that is really code for going to war.
Those who serve in the Defence Force today accept the risks and dangers of service, and we should not forget this. It is difficult to share my pride, when the Chief of Army said at the Afghanistan welcome home parade that all the mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives should be thankful that my dad – Lieutenant Colonel Wells – had brought all the soldiers in his battalion home alive from such a dangerous warzone.
It’s also important to acknowledge the impact war and service has on the children of those who serve. It’s not just dealing with the stress of a parent going off to war. Deployment of a parent becomes normal, and we must get used to parents being away for birthdays and other significant events. It also comes with lots of moving. I’ve lived in 10 houses, went to five different primary schools, and I’ve lived all over Australia and overseas. While to you this may seem difficult and abnormal, it’s just part of being an ‘Army brat’.
It is also important to remember partners of veterans and those serving now. One word to describe their experience: tough.
Imagine what it’s like to see the partner you love going off to war. Imagine how strong you must be to take your children to the airport to see their father off to the most dangerous place on earth. Imagine how hard it is as a parent doing a speech at your children’s primary school to try and stop their friends saying in the playground, “Your dad is in Afghanistan; he’s going to be blown up.”
They live in dread of a knock on the door while also balancing this with pride, fear, and strength. People like my mum are amazing, and they serve too.
Most people don’t know that our veterans who return safely from war often find life hard. In our world here at Wenona, most of us never see what war does to our veterans. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t a major issue. These veterans aren’t just old men. Some of them are young Australians, who are only a few years older than you and me.
It is difficult to imagine how hard it was for the 27,000 veterans of Afghanistan to see the country fall to the Taliban earlier this year. The war they gave everything to had been lost. Our veterans suffer post-traumatic stress, service life often causes horrible injuries, and when they finish service, they are at huge risk of anxiety, and depression. When they take off their uniform, they miss the mates with whom they served. Tragically, one veteran in Australia dies every two weeks by suicide.
We can help by remembering their service and sacrifice, and perhaps donating to one of the veteran’s charities on Remembrance Day. If anyone would like to talk about ideas to help our veterans, please reach out. This is something that is personal for me.
My hope today is that by sharing a small part of my family’s story you are better able to understand what Remembrance Day means and its significance. Let us all take this moment to remember and reflect on the damage of war and the impact it has on those who serve and their families. Most of all, we remember those who have died serving their country.
Lest we Forget.
Eliza (Year 10)