“There it is. Right there,” my uncle pointed to a large tree. Yet, amongst the shrubbery and foliage it seemed insignificant.
But having climbed and trekked up the mountain for hours then to finally reach the spot that determined my family’s fate and history, I was left only to pause. Finally catching my breath, thoughts turned to what happened and also what could’ve been.
It was the dawning of World War 2 and Indonesia was caught in the middle of a violent tug of war between the Dutch and the Japanese.
After 350 years of being occupied by the Dutch, the Japanese had landed and Indonesia was just one of the many countries they planned to invade as part of their war propaganda strategy, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
At the time, my great grandfather was a Colonel for the Dutch Army. News came through that the Japanese Army were fast approaching and wanted to capture and arrest anyone who held a senior position with their enemy. They were to torture and kill everyone in my great grandfather’s village until they found their targeted men.
The choice was either to be killed or to take his own life. Surrendering was not an option.
So, there I stood in front of the tree where my great grandfather sacrificed his own life in order to save thousands of others.
Growing up in Australia, I used to blindly think that ANZAC day was awfully set to glorify war. I couldn’t get my head around why people went to pubs, played coin games and just spent the day getting written off.
But 10 years ago, I was fortunate to watch the parade. Watching all the elderly soldiers, wearing their beautiful shiny medals, marching with such pride and at the same time, humility, it was so obvious that the day signifies so much more.
Freedom can be taken for granted, until we truly have to fight for it.
And for those who have never had to, we don’t understand or appreciate the fact that freedom is a right that so many in the world’s history have been deprived of.
The awful reality is that there are still so many countries still suffering; still losing innocent, precious lives.
ANZAC Day to me is to remember all fallen soldiers. It’s a day to spare a thought for anyone and everyone who’s ever been involved and been affected by the tragedies and heartache that war brings.
Lest We Forget.
What significance does ANZAC Day have for you?
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