As ANZAC Day approaches, our ten year olds – Will and Amelia are busy polishing their shoes. Tomorrow morning, they will be up bright and early to sing Advance Australia Fair and God Defend New Zealand at the Samford Avenue of Honour.
We live and work in Samford, and there is a strong sense of respect for the service of our ANZACs across the generations.
The Avenue of Honour is prominent in Samford, and we walk it regularly. Every time we pass by the 20 large hoop pines that honour the 20 local servicemen killed in WWI, WWII the Korean War, we are struck by the strength and sacrifice of those who served and their families who remained here, praying for their safe return.
We see this memorial several times a week, and it’s not the battles that we think of, it’s the lives sacrificed in service to this country. We think of the times before they left, the years they lost, and the families who carried on without them. We also think of the servicemen and women who returned to build a life after the battles.
It is people who we will honour when we gather tomorrow at dawn. Not the monuments or the wars.
It is the people who matter. And our military personnel know this, better than most.
As I was preparing dinner that night, Randall stood by me, telling me about his day at the SRC. He told me how much he appreciated being there to present the qualifications to the two Churchill Scholarship recipients.
And then he told me he heard the most inspiring speech ever….
I stopped chopping and started to really pay attention. My husband has seen a lot in his life and whilst he has a big heart, he is not one prone to big praise without good reason.
But that day, the Commander of the 7th Combat Brigade – Brigadier Andrew Hocking, had given a speech to the service personnel that really spoke to Randall.
Brigadier Hocking talked about how it is people who change lives.
It is not the building, the facilities, the equipment, the program that impact us – it is the people in the building, using the equipment, participating and facilitating the program who really make a difference.
And when we belong, when we make space to include each other, that is when we truly have an impact.
Careers may change. We may change. In fact, it is not a possibility, it is a given – a normal part of life.
But supporting people as we engage in campaigns, as we move through life, as we navigate change, those are the true acts of service.
And that should never change.
Brigadier Hocking made a mark on our family that day, and listening to Randall talk, I suspect that the Brigadier’s words left their mark on every person in the room.
And that, my friends, is true leadership ….
Tomorrow, when our children are singing our national anthem at the Samford Avenue of Honour, we will be standing side by side with a community who are remembering the legacy of the best of humanity.
We will honour those who understood what it meant to be someone’s mate, to be loyal to a nation, to stand side-by-side, regardless of the equipment, the plan or the battle ground.
And we will remember.
May this never change.
Lest we forget ….