When I was younger I detested thinking about war. I didn’t like watching war movies. I didn’t give much thought to the people who went to war. That changed when I was asked to write a story on the RSL and how it came to be. As I researched for that story, my eyes were opened to why it is so important to observe Anzac Day.

So as Anzac day approaches, my thoughts turn to the many men and women who have given their lives in service to this country. They weren’t forced. They voluntarily went so that their families could continue to live freely. They didn’t go with the fear they would die; they went for the purpose of seeing their country live.

LEST WE FORGET: The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne is one of many memorials around Australia where those who sacrificed their lives are remembered on Anzac Day. PICTURE: www.sxc.hu/Timo Balk

"On Anzac Day I remember the lives of men who gave theirs for our liberty. Life is precious and when life is given for life, we should at least make time to commemorate that life. Jesus gave His life to give us freedom from sin and make us righteous. Soldiers in the wars gave their lives so that we could have the freedom to worship our Saviour and rejoice in His resurrection."

Many people see war as unnecessary. Many see it as a waste. And I suppose a waste is true in a sense. Young lives are lost, lives that could have gone on to be so much more. However, is it a waste of a life when that life has been given for the freedom of others? I don’t think that the giver of that life would see it as a waste.

Our freedom only exists because of the price paid by them. There have been many times in Australia’s history when the enemy has been inside our borders. Darwin had more bombs dropped on it in one attack than Pearl Harbour. Sydney Harbour was invaded by Japanese mini submarines. These attacks may have had far greater consequences if no one had been there to defend our territory.

But freedom isn’t just for the home country. When allied countries call for help, there is a responsibility to answer them. Russia called for help in the First World War. This led to the landings at Gallipoli. When the Anzacs landed in Gallipoli they did so under heavy opposition. Even when the going was hopeless they continued to give of themselves day after day. They fought amongst the inhumane conditions that consisted of filth and the bodies of their dead comrades beside them in the trenches. They braved the conditions that heavily afflicted them like trench foot, dysentery and frostbite, to name a few.

These conditions left many disabled, and upon returning home, found it impossible to obtain work. And it wasn’t just the disabled who were affected by unemployment. Many soldiers found it difficult to gain full-time work. Some reasons for this include jobs being held by men who didn’t go to war, lack of skills, and women workers who were making up the workforce during the war. 

Government help was not available either. War pensions did not exist nor did any other kind of support group. Compensation for injuries was unavailable. These benefits were to come later through the lobbying of the government by the RSL.

Finding employment was not the only difficulty they faced. General acceptance in the community was another. A number of people held an anti-war sentiment and ex-soldiers were scorned for the role they performed in the war. 

After going through the hardship of war and coming home to a different kind of hardship, to me it is important to remember the sacrifices these soldiers gave for their country. Many of them were just out of school and went off to war for us. When I consider the conditions they fought in, the injuries they suffered and the difficulties they faced when they came home, it makes me want to take time out to remember them. And with Anzac Day dawn services and marches growing in popularity, it appears I am not alone.

So, at Easter I remember the crucifixion of Jesus. On Anzac Day I remember the lives of men who gave theirs for our liberty. Life is precious and when life is given for life, we should at least make time to commemorate that life.

Jesus gave His life to give us freedom from sin and make us righteous. Soldiers in the wars gave their lives so that we could have the freedom to worship our Saviour and rejoice in His resurrection.