Remembrance Day was created to remember what happened in the past, but that doesn’t mean it has no relevance today. The past is inextricably linked with the present.
For me, the history of World War I reached out its hands and grabbed me about ten years ago. I was fascinated and awed by the fact that people were prepared to serve their country even if it meant dying.
I’d grown up hearing stories of Gallipoli, but I don’t really remember hearing anything about the Western Front until about five years ago. But in that time I have learnt so much.
The Western Front was fought over for about two and a half years, with one six-week period at Pozieres causing as many deaths as had occurred at Gallipoli in six months. But these statistics and numbers are meaningless until you see the graves. It is impossible to fathom what 60,000 Australian graves would look like. Behind me is a photo showing part of a cemetery that had about 5,000 graves. Each grave represented a real person who had died, someone with family and friends whose lives were dramatically changed by the Great War.
Throughout World War I thousands of men and hundreds of women sacrificed their lives for freedom. A freedom we now reap the benefits of. We owe them a debt we could never repay. But remembering those who served is the way we try to.