“ Even if this spring the dappled leaves should shelter our minds from the moon’s pale echo we would still remember how once they were sheltered by our skulls only from the day’s sun and the night’s stars and never from what we feared and what we remembered ” ~ Dan Davin
I live in the picturesque Byron Shire – a million miles away from battlefields and war zones. Ours is the place where people come to enjoy some rest, sunshine, catch a few waves and enjoy a couple of beers as the sun goes down.
On a morning like many others I woke early and headed into Byron Bay for a swim and a good coffee. I parked my car, and began walking up the street towards the beach. The town was mostly still asleep, and all you could hear was the distant rolling surf and the morning chorus of birdsong.
Behind me some sleepy-eyed young men tumbled out of a local motel, clad in boardshorts and singlets, towels flung over their shoulders.
Suddenly there was a loud bang. I jumped, startled, and glanced around to see where the noise had come from. Bang! It sounded like a small explosion. The noise shattered the stillness of the morning, and the bangs kept coming.
Inexplicably I found myself shielded by three young men, pressed into the safety of a doorway. The tension was palpable, and then it dissolved as an old Kombi lurched past us, still backfiring.
We all laughed. I laughed heartily, feeling silly to have been frightened by something so ordinary. The young men laughed uncomfortably, and then began apologising profusely for having shoved me off the street.
“It’s okay, you probably haven’t had your coffee yet,” I said, trying to make them feel better.
“Actually, it’s the first day of our holiday,” explained one. “Can you tell us where to get a good brew?”
I did one better, and shouted them a coffee at my favourite local cafe. Turns out the young men were three of our soldiers, just back from a tour of Afghanistan. They apologised again and again for being jumpy, but I was just grateful that their first instinct had been to take care of me, before they even knew what the threat was.
It was enlightening to talk with them. They were so proud of the efforts of Australia’s military, and had obvious love of their work. We talked about their overseas tours, and their work closer to home, helping out after cyclones and floods. They talked about the morale of our troops, and the excitement and emotional uplift when care packages arrived in the mail. Of what it meant to receive letters from school children, and ANZAC biscuits and Vegemite from people they’d never met, but who were thinking of them, so far from home.
They talked of comrades injured, or killed. And the strong bonds of friendship.
By the time they’d finished their coffees they were relaxed again. Three mates heading off up the street to go for a body surf, to lie in the sun, and then to go in search of breakfast.
Today, ANZAC Day, I’m thinking of those three young men; their courage and their values. The ANZAC Spirit is alive and well, and I’m so very proud and grateful.
Lest We Forget.
9 thoughts on “The ANZAC Spirit Lives On”
This made me feel so thankful. And I cried and read it to my youngest. Yet, I wondered if American soldiers would respond in this fashion. I have an older son who was a soldier and I’m not even sure of what he’d do!
Tears 😭 you have the most bestest real life stories I mean those singlet board shorts and thong clad lads saved your life .. I mean death by back firing combi is not at all how I saw your ending …. love you and keep on keeping on ❣️
I often think of this story too, Nicole.
Sending loving hugs to those brave men and women who continue to be troubled by their service after they return home ❤️
That is a good reminder that today’s soldiers also appreciate getting the care packages.
What a great story we need to remember all who served
Totally brought me to tears, what an amazing story and had just been to Dawn service <3
What a beautiful spirit of Anzac to share Nicole. Seeing into the Souls. And sending deep wishes and prayers that war will be a thing if the past that humans reflect on as an evolutionary step that once may have held a truth.
Lest we forget all the men and women who return and continue to suffer in service for our country. They are truly brave. I think of this story often Nicole. I recently met a young man in his forties who now has a service dog to support his life with ptsd. There are so many invisible consequences these brave men and women live with and it is good to remember and thank them and, if we can, support their recovery.
Thank you for your reminder each year. I think we both posted at the same time this morning.
My grandfather suffered from PTSD before it had a name he would end up in Concord hospital twice a year being treated for his condition