The Call Of Duty

I’m probably the last person in the world who would write a patriotic slap on the back to our forefathers, especially one about war, but this post from gullybogan got me thinking. I was invited to the dawn service yesterday and I turned it down, mostly because I didn’t know much about what we were remembering. I could blame it on school, but a girl who has studied Australian Politics at university should know better. It was due to ignorance, a tactless regard for this day as a stuffy ode to another war we probably shouldn’t have been fighting.

What I didn’t realise was the sheer mass of men who died in that battle. They were sent to slaughter. I am ashamed of myself for all the years I’ve gone without understanding properly what happened and why it was significant. But, I don’t think it is uncommon for people my age and younger. In fact, I can tell you its not because I know my friends and I know a lot of people my age, and they gloss over this day as much as I did. Its a day off for a barbecue and some beers. Yeah, we know men died in a war and old people love this day. The diggers were brave fighters, so on and so forth, wheres the VB at?

With age comes understanding and appreciation. My grandfather rings our house at least once a fortnight to check up on my mother, and to me it was just a nuisance, half because he’s a bit deaf and its hard to communicate, the other half because conversation can be awkward. I love him, but I haven’t really taken enough time to get to know him. Today he called of course, being Anzac Day, and for once I actually had a chat with him. He’d gone to the service, he does every year. Its something he would take pride in and he would feel a sense of duty attached to it, despite not having any part in it.

Thats something that we as a youth I think have forgotten. A sense of duty in taking pride in our people (I won’t say country because thats a totally different matter), attending a service, calling our 50 year old daughter every couple of weeks to check up on her, see if she’s ok. Wear suits to backyard lunches and keep your back straight. Make sure to speak to every single one of your grandchildren to see what they’re interested in, where their lives are headed, how they’re doing. Where have these noble characters gone?

This day should be remembered for the men that died needlessly. They fought in a war they probably didn’t know much about, not for any gain of their own but to do what they thought their duty was. Protect their families. They sacrificed their lives, but the amazing thing is they do live on, and I’m not trying to be cheesy but a whole country remembering them one day every year is almost thanks enough for what they gave. Almost, but not quite. I wasn’t even alive then, but I feel so guilty that they went to war. I’m sorry for their families, the kids that lost dads and the wives who lost their lovers.

I’m sorry that even though you told me “lest we forget”, I forgot. But I promise that from now on, I will remember on this day every year and I’ll tell my kids the real reason why I’m doing it without skipping over the massacre of men who were just like my pop. Now I must be off to my bbq, so I can do some remembering the way my generation does it.. with an esky of beer and a sausage in hand during the minute of silence.

“Lest We Forget.”

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