If my Grandad, Albert F Bronson was alive, he would have been 100 years old on the 24th of January this year. Three months after he was born, the legend of the ANZAC was born and he would be in his twenties when he joined the Army to drive transport trucks in the Middle East during World War II.
His enlisted number was NX25023. One of the very few things he could remember and recite as his health declined when dementia took away his capacity to remember the good parts of his life.
As I have written each year around ANZAC day, I spend my day thinking of him and the few stories he told me.
Today though, my husband and I decided that it was important to take our children to a Dawn Service. It was a first for all of us. We got up at 3.15am, all put on something warm and headed out.
It was beyond moving seeing the quantity of people and especially children with their parents at this morning’s service. We were just at a local one, but the park and the roads were full. Absolutely standing room only.
This week, I have read some articles from people who call themselves Academic, completely denegrating the memory of the ANZACs and trying to show the truth of the matter about that conflict. Standing tall on their point that the legend is glorified and we as a country should not be acknowledging them or holding space on Armistice Day in November either.
I was so confused.
I have studied the Wars since I was a teenager. If you read the texts, the accounts, the letters home, the records all show what happened. The interviews with the diggers before they finally were able to rest from their memories of that time. What I learned as a student, and since, is still correct, the legend of the birth of the ANZAC defined us as a Nation.
The articles I have been reading alluding to acts of war that were perpetrated by our Diggers and heinous acts against the conventions of war and therefore, with the tone of these papers, the legend is nothing of what we are taught.
My confusion turned to anger.
The group of people flocking around the shares of these articles like cranky seagulls fighting for a hot chip. Let me tell you, it’s been a long while since I have been that angry.
It’s so easy to sit there and read documents from an Academic that was not there and jump on the bank wagon of their juxtaposition.
I know, I know, the irony of me stating this, I wasn’t there either.
Here’s what I have seen with my own eyes though, the rows and rows and rows of headstones at Çanakkale. The tears of pain as people walk through them in modern times, in times of peace, looking at the terrain, walking through what’s left of the trenches, standing at the point looking out across the sea where the boats landed. Close your eyes for a minute and feel your feet on the hallowed ground and you will connect with the fear, the suffering, the torment that ALL men there went through.
The sounds, the smells, the moans of the dying, and all to no end.
That’s a fact, from both sides, or none of us would have been commemorating anything today.
I wonder if this Academic or group of them had the fortitude to sit with one of the originals and vent their opinions at these men, or maybe some of them could sit with the descendants of those who grew up watching the haunted eyes or the silence or the alcoholism.
This morning and then today watching all the photos being shared of the proud Australian’s honouring our lost souls as well as the ones who made it home and are still serving. It helps me to say a solid “get stuffed, you disgust me” to those people choosing to use this time of year to spell out ‘the truth’. It’s there if you want to bloody read about it, but it’s the best part of human nature to give all those who went through that a collective hug and an ‘it’ll be right mate’, even if it is now just to a group of departed souls and their descendants.
This morning I was fully loaded up with tissues and even a man’s hanky, because the last few days I’ve been struggling with the tears. Especially when my children have asked me about it. The memory has always moved me to such an extraordinary extent.
Do you know what happened this morning?
A complete feeling of wholeness and oneness came over me, the kind of feeling that you get with a mass of people saying to those boys and men who were caught up in the Empirical madness 100 years ago, thank you, you will never be forgotten.