I am sitting in the hot November sun at the Remembrance Service and I still shiver when I listen to the words of ‘In Flanders Fields’ and the Bugler playing The Last Post and the Rouse
When I was 19 I walked the hills and beach of Gallipoli with my boyfriend but I was young and in love and the deaths that had occurred did not make me sad. I was too busy living. Over three decades later I toured many World War 1 battle sites with my husband and despite his enthusiasm and knowledge, I kept feeling revulsion and horror at the stupidity of the tactics that caused such enormous numbers of our young men to die. I was now a mother with a son in Iraq and Afghanistan and I could not escape the visceral pain that refused to go away until I knew he was away from that theatre of war.
It is a good thing to stop for a moment at 11 am on 11 November to remember those known and unknown who died or suffered for Australia in war and armed conflict. Listening to the music, I try to tally up my family’s military connections; husband, sons, fathers, mother, sister, uncles and great-uncles stopping around a dozen and that is only the immediate family. The military has been kind to my family who lost my Great-Uncle Lionel, killed near Fromelles. I read his name on the wall at Villers-Bretoneaux.
Each year I plant some poppy seeds in my garden and watch with pleasure when they raise their bright blood-red flowers above the leaves. It gives me a feeling of connection and is a reminder, Lest We Forget.