It was a promise made, one man to another, who wrote it down and spoke it again and again.
“Do not forget. Do not allow others to forget. Say it often: Lest we forget.”
ANZAC Day means something. It’s not a celebration.
It’s about friends, and how they watched each other die in the stink of ditches, in the rain of another country, in the cold and dust of a military action most of them didn’t truly understand. The men who took up the banner of their country and represented it as best they could. Alongside their friends.
Friends who died. And for the ones who returned to a home they no longer felt comfortable in, to people who hadn’t seen the last gasp, or felt the stare of death so close the breath clogged because they weren’t there – this is for you, too, to say those words: Lest We Forget.
The only people who understood the emptiness and bitterness, and sometimes the shame that they couldn’t have done it better, or faster, or been in the place of someone else … The only people who understood were the ones who came back. And now they had to speak for the ones who didn’t. And they said it: Lest we forget.
The woman who was so broken when her husband didn’t come back and decided to lay a flower for him in a public place, who then met up with the man who couldn’t find a way to let go of his friends who were no longer living – they began to meet up on one day each year. Others joined them. Today, I join them to remember my father, my uncles, their friends. Their lives. Lest we forget.
Now it is up to us to say: We remember. And for those who died, and those who came home, and those who lived with a pain in the centre of the family – this is for you. The memory of those who did what was asked of them, who died and suffered and those who relived it all every day of their lives until …
Lest we forget … the price the ordinary people paid for the freedom they believed in.
ANZAC Day is a memorial, a reminder of the cost in blood of those who fought, and continue to fight, for our right to be. There’s no more to it than that – the words are important, the feeling is important, the continuation of our understanding of the sense of loss and deprivation are important.
Lest We Forget.
25 April 2017.