Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lest We Forget

Most countries have at least one special national day in the year to remember and pay tribute to their nation’s fallen service men and women. It may be called Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Poppy Day, Veteran’s Day. Other countries may have more than one special day to remember but Armistice Day contains “the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month’ to celebrate the official day World War I finished. We do like to celebrate “victories” so it often puzzles people when they realize Australia’s special remembrance day is on the World War I date of a massive defeat of the British, Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli in Turkey. Just over two weeks ago here in Australia we had our ANZAC Day on Sunday, April 25th .

I can vividly remember my school days when we solemnly observed this day. At special assemblies we would have a speaker, usually an ex-serviceman or someone still in active service to tell us some story from one of the wars Australians had participated in There was always the singing of at least one hymn like God Our Help in Ages Past, Abide With Me, Eternal Father Strong to Save. There was always prayer, the playing of The Last Post and the recitation of the poem Lest We Forget.

I heard this put into the words of a song for the first time this year. Thanks to Andrea Grigg and K.Howard for their song "Lest We Forget" and I do hope you go to YouTube and listen.

Our flag is always lowered and raised, our national anthem of course sung at the services. I don’t remember war ever being glorified in any way. My memory is of great sadness at so many young and old lives lost. No matter whether victor or foe, it all just highlighted the horrors of man killing man.

For the first time there was no WWI veteran to take part this year in any parade across our nation. It was noted that the number of participants across Australia in services, marches, crowds has increased quite a lot. Nowadays close relatives of ex-service men and women who were killed in action are allowed to march, most wearing their family’s medals. There were many children and young people this year in the marches. The number of young Australians attending the dawn service on the shores of Gallipoli is quite remarkable. However, I have noted one thing about the televised service this year that really saddened me. Any mention of God was really minimal. I didn’t get to a local dawn service or local march here in our quiet Tasmania but I do hope and pray that He did have a much more prominent place in services across our nation. Sadly, I have to doubt it.

One other thing is also very disturbing to me. I have found out that it seems in many, many places today ANZAC Day is being taught to children in our schools as “the day Australia became a nation.” To start with it is not historically true! And how can an honourable nation possibly begin through the death and defeat of many, many thousands of their brave young men in the horror and the horrible mistakes made by army commanders at Gallipoli? And in that same battle we must never forget the death of about three times as many young Turkish soldiers as our own who also had families who loved them. Is that the kind of “ideal” I want my grandchildren to grow up believing?

At many ANZAC services over the years I have heard the words of Jesus quoted from John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for His friends.” I have not heard the next verse quoted when He said, “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you” or been reminded that “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Roms 5:6-8)

God’s love is so great that while we were still His enemies our Saviour died for us! We have at least one day in our year to think of those who have died for our nation to have peace, hope and freedom. How much more should we never neglect to come together to remember the Christ of the Cross and His victory over death by being raised from the dead. In Him we have real, lasting peace of heart, mind and spirit, a hope that never fades for a life eternal with Him and freedom from the slavery of sin that destroys.

Oh, my prayer for my nation is that each Australian will know Jesus Christ as the only lasting source of love, of justice and life eternal.
Lest we forget. Lest we forget!


  1. Beautiful and sad post, Mary. Thanks for reminding us of how much we do have to remember and honor.

  2. I agree that we must never forget the sacrifices of those who have gone before us and were willing to fight for their believes of what was right and good. Secondly we mustn't put aside the importance of God's love for us, because without it the same people who have guarded our freedoms would not have stepped up to the call. God's love binds us together and gives us the courage to stand up to evil or what we see as wrongs- to remove God from a country's history is daft by any measure. You made many thought-provoking points, and I thank you.

  3. Yes, Caroline, I did feel sad as I wrote about ANZAC day but then my heart lifted when I thought about just how much God loves us - and our nation too.
    Thank you for your comment too, Heckety. Our dear country sure had a different beginning history from nations like America. We started off with convicts and sadly, many of those who came with them behaved even worse than many convicted of crimes. God certainly was very low in their considerations! And not sure if you know that according to the UN standards, Australia is no longer fitting their criteria of a "Christian country."

  4. Thanks for the insight, Mary. Here in S.Africa we too have had a shift in celebrations, but ours is deliberate. The enemies of the "White man" in historic Africa have now become the heroes, and history books are being rewritten. Streets and towns named to commemorate the "great men" of our past have been renamed to exalt those who were once regarded "terrorists" by the previous regime. 'Tis indeed a strange world we live in. Perhaps the old cliche "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" could be rewritten, "Heroes are in the mind of the ruling party"!

  5. As an Australian I wonder how other countries celebrate these days. I remember a New Zealand friend of ours in Japan being shocked when someone from another nation suggested that a party was in order for ANZAC day.