This post is a little late, mainly because it’s taken me this long to gather the strength to write it. Sunday past was ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. If you want to know more particulars about this most sacred of Down Under holidays, I invite you to check out what the ubiquitous Wikipedia article has to say . . . if you are hypocritical enough to use a source most of you school librarians out there won’t let your students use.
The short summary is ANZAC Day is analogous to Memorial Day here in the United States. Like its American counterpart, ANZAC Day is a day of remembering far too many brave men and, nowadays, women, who went off to wars they didn’t want for governments they may or may not have supported to die far from home in a foreign land at the hands of people with whom they had no quarrel. If you can’t tell, I don’t like war. A war cost me a relationship with my father. I realize that war is sometimes necessary, but this world hasn’t seen a Hitler in 60 years and yet we still find a reason to pull out our deadly toys and kill each other.
This ANZAC Day was unique. It marked the first time since the inception of the holiday that no veteran of WWI, the “Diggers” as the Aussies called them, was alive to mark the occasion. In the whole world, less than five men, all centenarians, still live for whom the barbed wire and the blood and mud and mire of the trenches is not second hand information, but real, in color memory. When those precious few are gone, the world will have lost the first hand accounts of the Great War that was to end all wars, the war that — more than any before or since — changed the world as we would come to know it, and that all for the worse.
The last Aussie Digger has passed on as has the last British Tommie and the final German Hun. America still has a doughboy tucked away in the hills of West Virginia and our Canadian allies still have one or possibly two souls who were in a trench the day the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Soon, as always happens once living memory is dead, the forgetting will begin in earnest. I hate to see that happen because when it does, we will forget why The Band Played Waltzing Matilda and the dying and killing will go on and the reasons will get no better.
Love y’all. Pray for our boys and girls fighting and dying please . . . for me.