Today, the 25th of April, is ANZAC Day. It’s an important day for all Australians and New Zealanders, as it marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces in Gallipoli in WWI. ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day is now a day of national rememberance to commerate the lives of all the soldiers that have fought in all the wars, for their country.
Ever since I was young, this day has held great significance for me. From an early age, my parents have demonstrated a great respect for our soldiers, as both their fathers served in WWII. And given the opportunity when I was younger, I would march in the ANZAC Day parade, proudly displaying my Poppie’s medals. (I did have some embarrassing pics of me marching in my primary school recorder band, to scan and upload, but the scanner wasn’t working)
My mother’s father, “Poppie”, was captured in Singapore and held prisoner of war in Changi. It’s bizarre really. When I hear the word Changi, I immediately associate it with excitement and opportunity, because to me, it represents Changi airport, and this airport is usually a stop over for me on my way to races and training camps. But the Changi my Poppie would have known, would of been one of terror. Mum said he didn’t talk about his time in Changi often. Apparently he said the only thing that kept him alive was the coconuts he would collect and eat/drink when he managed to sneak out at night. So yes, those coconuts do have amazing nutrients. And one horror story he told her, was sometimes after returning to prison from a day of labouring, they would be ‘greeted’ with the vision of seeing their fellow inmates’ heads on sticks. He survived. However, an experience like that would no doubt scar you for life.
My father’s father, Grand Dad, fought in Syria (Middle East) in WWII. His battillion was brought back to fight in New Guinea where he fought on the (now) famous Kokoda trail, and was injured in battle, and horrifyingly had to witness his best friend being blown up next to him. He too never spoke often of his time at war, and again no doubt an experience that only sleep (perhaps) can provide you with peace from the horrors you have witnessed.
Those are just my two stories, that go along with the many many more. And that is why we commerate ANZAC Day. To remember all the soldiers that fought for the freedom of our country. To remind myself how lucky I am to live the life I live today- lucky to wake up and have the freedom of choice to be able to throw on my running shoes and go for a run.
My two grandfathers weren’t the only soldiers in my family. My great great great Grandpappy Preston fought in the Civil War for the Confederates.
It’s an old photo, but my father has had it restored to full colour and condition. We are very proud of our great great great Grandpappy Preston.
I have now decided, every blog of mine, shall include a youtube clip. Gallipoli is an Aussie movie about two guys (one of them, a very young Mel Gibson), who were really good runners, that enlist for the WWI. When I first saw it, I was very young and the war part was sort of irrelevant to me. What stood out to me in the film was the running and the mantra Archy (not Mel) and his uncle/coach would repeat before he ran:
Uncle Jack: What are your legs?
Archy Hamilton: Springs. Steel springs.
Jack: What are they going to do?
Archy : Hurl me down the track.
Jack: How fast can you run?
Archy : As fast as a leopard.
Jack: How fast are you going to run?
Archy : As fast as a leopard!
Jack: Then let’s see you do it!
For anyone that has never seen Gallipoli, here is the very powerful ending: